Deities of Ancient Egypt

The gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt were a complex group of beings and ideas. As the culture evolved, so did many of the deities and what they represented. Here are some of the best-known gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt.
 

01
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Anubis guided the souls of the dead through the underworld. Image by De Agostini / W. Buss / Getty Images

Anubis was the jackal-headed Egyptian god of death and embalming, and is said to be the son of Osiris by Nepthys, although in some legends his father is Set. It is the job of Anubis to weigh the souls of the dead, and determine whether they were worthy of admittance to the underworld. As part of his duties, he is the patron of lost souls and orphans. Find out why Anubis was important to the ancient Egyptians.

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Goddess Bast
Bronze figurines of goddess Bastet, as a cat or a cat-headed woman. Image by De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images

In ancient Egypt, cats were often worshipped as deities, Bast was one of the most highly honored feline gods. Also called Bastet, she was a goddess of sex and fertility. Originally, she was portrayed as a lioness, but was sometimes portrayed with kittens beside her, as an homage to her role as a goddess of fertility.
 

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Geb, God of Earth

Depiction of Geb, detail of wall painting, Tomb of Baenentyu, Bahariya Oasis, Egypt, Egyptian civilization, Saite Period, Dynasty XXVI
De Agostini / C. Sappa / Getty Images

In the ancient Egyptian religion, Geb is known as the god of the earth and is the first king of Egypt. He is often portrayed lying beneath the sky goddess, Nut. In his role as a god of earth, he is a fertility deity. Plants grow within his body, the dead are imprisoned inside him, and earthquakes are his laughter. He is more than a god of the surface of the earth - in fact, he is a god of everything contained within the earth.
 

04
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Hathor, Patron of Women

Hathor
The Egyptians honored Hathor, wife of Ra. Wolfgang Kaehler/age fotostock/Getty Images

In Egyptian religion, Hathor was a predynastic goddess who embodied femininity, love and the joy of motherhood. In addition to being a symbol of fertility, she was known as a goddess of the underworld, in that she welcomed the newly departed to the West.
 

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Isis is often portrayed with her wings spread out. Photo Credit: A. Dagli Orti/De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images

Originally a funerary goddess, Isis was the lover of Osiris. After his death, she used her magic to resurrect him. Isis is honored for her role as the mother of Horus, one of Egypt's most powerful gods. She was also the divine mother of every pharoah of Egypt, and ultimately of Egypt itself.
 

06
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Painting of the Goddess Ma'at from the tomb of Nefertari
Sandro Vannini / Getty Images

Maat is the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice. She is married to Thoth, and is the daughter of Ra, the sun god. In addition to truth, she embodies harmony, balance and divine order. In Egyptian legends, it is Maat who steps in after the universe is created, and brings harmony amidst the chaos and disorder.
 

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Osiris on his throne, as shown in the Book of the Dead, funerary papyrus. Image by W. Buss/De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images

Osiris was the son of earth and sky, and beloved of Isis. He is known as the god who taught mankind the secrets of civilization. Today, he is honored by some Pagans as a god of the underworld and of the harvest.
 

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Ra the Sun God
Ra played a crucial role in Egyptian mythology. Image from Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ra was the ruler of the heavens. He was the god of the sun, the bringer of light, and patron to the pharaohs. According to legend, the sun travels the skies as Ra drives his chariot through the heavens. Although he originally was associated only with the midday sun, as time went by, Ra became connected to the sun's presence all day long.
 

09
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Bottle for mother's milk shaped with appearance of Taweret (hippopotamus goddess), Egyptian civilization
DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI / Getty Images

Taweret was an Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility - but for a while, she was considered a demon. Associated with the hippopotomus, Taweret is a goddess who watches over and protects women in labor and their new babies.
 

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Thoth the scribe is associated with the moon's mysteries. Image by Cheryl Forbes/Lonely Planet/Getty Images

Thoth was an Egyptian god who spoke as the tongue of Ra. Find out what's special about this ibis-headed deity of ancient Egypt, and how he factors in to the story of Isis and Osiris.