Ancient Egyptian gods “A”
Aker: This god is usually shown by a pair of conjoined Sphinx that faces away from each other (or back to back). The lions are Sef (meaning yesterday) and Duau (meaning today). Aker was an ancient earth god and was also known as the protector of the eastern and western horizons. It was common practice for ancient royal Egyptians to place lions in front of their residences, palaces, and/or tombs. It was believed that this practice would ward off any evil spirits from their dwellings.
Amaunet: This was the female equivalent of the god Amun. Both Amaunet and Amun refer to “the hidden ones.” Amaunet is first mentioned in the Pyramid Texts. The time period that this god was worshipped was in the New Kingdom Period. She was worshiped along with Amun in the temple of Karnak and is closely associated with him. In addition, she is known to be one of the Hermopolitian Ogdoad (group of eight gods).
Amun, Amen, Amon, Ammon, Amoun: This god was regarded as the local deity of Thebes from the Middle Kingdom onward. In the beginning he was considered only a regional deity until the kings further conquered the full rule of Egypt and then his popularity increased. He was often depicted wearing a tall double plumed crown, sprouting a beard and in human form. The principal place where he was worshipped was at Karnak along with Mut (his consort) and Khonsu (his son). He was considered a god of the whole kingdom; whereby, the common people gave him the title of the vizier of the poor. In the New Kingdom, the cult of the sun god Ra (also known as Re) and his following came together with Amun and as a result Amun-Ra (Amun-Re) came to fruition. He than began to be worshiped as the king of the gods and creator of the world and all its inhabitants. He also wore the title of a god who could regenerate himself into millions. Amun was said to be the friend of all kings and to swiftly aid them in their time of battle. He was also recognized as a god who assisted the poor and the friendless.
Towards the end of the New Kingdom, Amun was depicted as a curved-horn ram and sometimes as a sphinx with the head of a ram. This was the primary form whereby the Nubians and Libyans worshipped him. This god also had associations with the fertility god Min and as such he became known as the ancient deity who had created himself. As he took on the role of Amun-Ra, he guaranteed that the world would be in constant creation. It was written that he ruled the spheres of earth and heaven as the king of all deities and even at one point that he united with the Egyptian queen to sire an heir to the throne. This mythical royal-birth legend continued up to the Greco-Roman Period where stories were told of how Amun was the father of Alexander the Great. He secured his place in history as the supreme deity during the Twenty First Dynasty in Thebes until Alexander the Great came along and confirmed himself as the son of a god by the oracle of Amun at Siwa.
Anubis: Anubis is depicted in human form, usually seated, with a jackal’s head and sometimes with a head of a wild dog. He was regarded as a frightening canine god who oversaw the mummification process and safeguarded burials. His role was to judge the dead and along with his army of messengers to punish any who violated the tombs. Most references link him to death and burial. For most of the Old Kingdom he is regarded as probably the most important deity for funeral ceremonies. He was also known as the god of embalming and as the god who kept the secrets. “Keeping the secrets” meant that he did not disclose the rituals and processes that took place in the embalming chamber. By the end of the third millennium BCE, he had lost his place as the god of the dead and Osiris had replaced him. He did, however, still remain as the god who had invented mummification and thereby became the preserver of the Osiris’ corpse. Eventually he came to be known as the son of Osiris; whereby, he also became associated with a dark element that followed him throughout and most probably why the epithet “the one who eats his father” was equated to him. He was very much associated with the “Opening of the mouth Ritual” that occurred during the mummification process. In the book of the dead he is also shown as supervising and weighing of the hearts of the dead as they are extrapolated. His role as a funeral god continued into the Roman Era; however, that function eventually diminished and took on a more diabolical swagger. He was regarded as coming from a divine family of supreme beings. His mother was the cow goddess Hesat and his father the bull god Mnevis. It appears that he was worshipped in various parts throughout Egypt but more so in Upper Egypt.
Anukis or Anuqet: This goddess was regarded as the First Cataract of the Nile and also the wife of the god Khnum. She is depicted carrying a staff and wearing a feather crown. She was known throughout Egyptian history but more so when the country held vast territories below the Cataracts. It is believed that she, Khnum, and Satet were part of the divine family to protect the Nile Cataract Region.
Apis: This Apis bull was most regarded as the god of royalty and fertility. He was worshiped from the Early Period onward. He is depicted with a blaze on his forehead and other special features which mark him as the animal chosen to be the divine bull of this period. There were many festivals honoring this animal. Some ceremonies date back to the First Dynasty and were called “The Running of Apis.” In order for bulls to be considered sacred, they had to have a white crescent on one side of their body or a white triangle on their forehead. This signified that this bull would be accepted by the gods. Sometimes a vulture patch on the back of the animal would be accepted for ceremonial purposes. Animals used for ceremonies were dressed in elaborate golden robes and paraded in the cememonies of Ptah. The belief was that the Apis bull was born from a virgin cow. After the death of one of these animals, an immediate search would begin to replace him. Bulls were cared for by priests for up to 25 years and then they were drowned. Parts of the animals were used for sacramental meals and other parts were embalmed and placed in the serapeum or other bull structures for preservation.
Aten: This god represented daylight which brought life to humans and animals. This god was known as “Aten of the Day” the solar disk that shone on the river. It was during the time of Akhenaten’s reign that Aten came to life. Aten is depicted as a solar disk with long rays ending in the shape of human hands and often extending the Ankh to the king. Akhenaten decreed to all that the god Aten was the true religion of the land and thereby all had to follow this “true” spiritualism. He was not invented by Akhenaten but rather had come to fruition during the reign of his predecessors Tuthmosis IV and Amenhotep III. As a result of this new proclamation by the king Akhenaten, a new capital was established in Aten’s honor which was called “Horizon of Aten.” Currently, this is known as el-Armana which is north of Thebes. Eventually, many temples were constructed representing the Aten worship; however, there were no statues to represent this god. Aten continued to be represented by a red disk with outreaching sun rays and hands. He was probably one of the most abstract deities known to the Pharoahs of Egypt. His popularity was heightened during the reign of Akhenaten and the royal family but once Akhenaten died (in 1335 BC), Aten was banished. Many of the temples and things related to Aten and Akhenaten were demolished thereafter.
Atum: Atum is considered to be the oldest god to have existed in ancient Egypt. In Heliopolitan theology this god name took on two meanings; “not to be” and “to be complete.” Taking on these two meanings caused vagueness and obscurity and most likely was meant to be this way. Supposedly, Atum was formed in the ancient waters that existed before the earth appeared. In some areas it was believed that he may have created himself. He was thought to be a form of the setting sun and sometimes he appeared in the guise of a mongoose. It was during this process that he created space, air, moisture, the sky, and the earth. Mythology cult follows that mankind and the gods were created from his tears and his sweat. He is depicted in human form wearing the royal double crown of Egypt, holding a Royal Scepter and the Ankh (sign of life).