Religious conviction, mankind’s connection with a superior power – God or “the deities,” and the life after death, has constantly been connected to geographic concerns. This is mainly apparent in the prehistoric earth, particularly, the Ancient Egypt. Given that the gods directed the natural universe, calamities were frequently associated with the annoyance of the divinities. This notion can be traced back to primeval era when nomadic people dependent on confirmatory environmental forces to give food and protection. Religion channeled each feature of the early Egyptian culture. The Egyptians had innumerable sacred beings. A few of them, like Amun, were reverenced all over the entire nation whereas others had simply limited worshippers. All together, the Egyptian gods had a deep connection with the Egyptian society and geography. This paper explores some of the most important Egyptian gods and the relationship they had with the natural features and community as a whole.
In ancient Egypt, cultural geographical approach to the study of gods and religion primarily tried to establish the impact the gods had on landscape. An even more recent approach to the study of the intersections of gods, religion and geography highlighted the role of gods and the religion in implementing landscape changes as well as in turning over divine significance to particular places. The approach also recognized how various Egyptians religious practice and ideologies at specific spaces are transformed and guided by their location. Religious encounters led to the conviction in meaning as well as mapping sacred spaces in physical spaces. These imaginings and perceptions influenced the usage of such spaces, while the spiritual and personal, meanings turned into godly spaces. Egypt’s connection with gods and goddesses was helpful since the deities looked after Egypt and made the development successful. It was the divinities, particularly Ptah, who created Egypt out of an ancient heap into a civilized society.
According to the complexity theory, the Egyptians never had a religion, but to a certain extent, they had a collection of religions that inspired, copied and interacted with each other. Some gods earned unsavory reputation all over Egypt following the creation of new administration and geographical boundaries. For example, the god Ptah got his power after the town of Memphis turned into Egypt’s capital. It was considered a law, to choose a supreme god every time a new capital was created. The Egyptians believed that their gods created the universe, and that they made order out of chaos. Their religion inspired optimism and confidence in the outer stability and order in the world. Religion was the uniting agent in ancient Egypt, and the gods steered the rhythms of death and life. The gods provided protection to living and assured them life after death. It was common for normal Egyptians to believe that they were leading a static, fixed and unchanging life in which death was just a part of a rhythmic and continuous cycle. Definite patterns came to be anticipated such as the building of canals, the building of pyramids and the harvesting of grains which according to beliefs were made so by the gods.
The Egyptians, the ancient makers of myths did not look for logical and rational explanation of nature. However, instead of applying systematic applications and natural laws the people appealed to gods for divine intervention and powers. No proper deductions on abstraction were made, and no clear hypothesis was formulated to establish the geography and nature of the world. The gods provided the distinctive character of early human civilizations in Egypt. Nevertheless, their religious activities to their gods were not founded on morality and comfort. The Egyptian divinities were anthropomorphic, specifically, the divinities acquired human appearance. The deities were resultant from the natural world for the main reason that existence in Egypt was directed or conditioned by the times of the year. Theirs was a planet of nature, and to appreciate nature, the Egyptians gave human character to the natural forces.
Egyptians assumed that these deities were accountable for forming the universe and everything it enclosed, together with the human race. The divinities were also accountable for the successful management of that planet. The gods governed the planet of humans through their worldly agents, basically the pharaohs. Eventually, Re, the sun deity, came to possess a powerful position in Egyptian faith. Spiritual beliefs were the source of Egyptian art, medication, astronomy, writing and administration. The vast pyramids were interment crypts for the pharaohs who were worshiped as deities on earth. The pharaoh was a holy king who functioned as the mediator between the divinities and his citizens. Fair dealing too, was visualized in spiritual stipulations, something given to humans by the gods. When the deities were annoyed, the natural forces reacted with violent retaliation. The rains would stop and the land would become infertile; without stones or vegetation, an open, defenseless, dry territory place normally unwelcoming to inhabitants staying there.
Osiris, the Egyptian deity who mediated the deceased, initially appeared as a local god of the Nile Delta in Lower Egypt. It was Osiris, who skilled the Egyptian on farming practices. Isis was his spouse, and Seth (who had an animal head), was his sibling and opponent. Seth murdered Osiris. Isis convinced the spirits to revive him, but after that he ruled the underworld. Osiris was recognized with the birth, fruitfulness of the Nile, and Isis with the productive soil of Egypt. Horus, the deity of the heavens, overpowered the wicked Seth following a lengthy fight. Horus was simply one type of sky divinity. There was also the sun god, Re, afterward merged with Amen, and still later Aten. The moon deity was Thoth (who had a monkey head), and was furthermore the deity of knowledge, enchantment and figures. In the big shrine cities like Heliopolis ("town of the sun"), clerics calculated and recorded hierarchies of gods. In the small village societies, all the natural forces were sacred and reverenced. One local deity was half crocodile, half hippopotamus, and half lion.
Regardless of the escalating number of gods which could be fixed into this hierarchy of divinities, one thing is assured: Egyptian faith was national. In Sumer, the sanctuary was the center of political, financial and spiritual organization. Certainly, it was often hard to identify where one feature started and another finished. Alternatively, the purpose of an Egyptian shrine was centered on religion. With more than 700 supernatural beings, each with a precise structure, setting, function and custom, the early Egyptian religious structure turns out to be even more inexplicable. There were typically two city centers of the nation; one governmental and one spiritual. Every abode had a place of worship. The holy places were a main hub in the towns and rural communities. Some clerics were of such high status that their authority occasionally exceeded that of the ruler himself. From the Egyptian creation story to mythologies of bravery and rebirth, many tales were told for their significance. They applied myths to signify their gods' responsibilities, and also as clarifications of what were then ordinary occurrences.
Based on the creation legend affirmed in the Egyptian books, Ra formed himself out of the black waters then went on to make Shu and Tefnut. After he finished creating them, he wailed; his tears then turned into the humans of the universe. And that was how human beings were formed in accordance with prehistoric Egyptian legends. Shu and Tefnut, the deities of air, gave birth to Geb and Nut - who consecutively gave birth to Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. These deities and jointly formed the planet as the early Egyptians knew it. One of Ra's major functions was that of a maker. He is believed to have formed the divinities and earth out of the black waters of pandemonium. Another significant function was navigating the solar vessel that conveyed the souls of the deceased to the underworld. Basically, Shu was everything sandwiched between the earth and sky. He was what caught up the heavens up on top of the ground, with his individual hands. As a component of being the divinity of the atmosphere, he symbolized northern and cold winds.Tefnut was also connected with Ra’s eyes, occasionally with the moon eye and at times with the lunar eye.
Sanctuaries were regarded as residential places for the deities, and they were built all over. Every capital had a sanctuary put up for the deity of that town. The function of the holy place was to be a huge meeting point by which men had contact with the spirits. As the clerics became more influential, tombs became a component of large shrines. The clerics’ responsibility was to look after the gods and handle their requirements. The clerics had numerous obligations like memorial service rituals, schooling training, overseeing the performers and works and counseling followers on crises. Identical to humans, deities required provisions, drink and garments. They also wanted to be cleansed so as to prolong their power. All this was offered through the ceremonies. There were daily ceremonies, primarily governed by shrine workers, and typically secretly from the community.
Egyptian faith never represented a distinct course. It was constantly various religious groups and inclinations. These religious groups and acquaintances shared a universal opinion of literally related notions. They concentrated on the permanence of the earth; there was a slight conviction in a permanent transformation. Early Egyptian faith was to a vast degree science, regulation, morals and attitude working mutually within an identical framework. Unlike contemporary religion, it was impossible to do something outside the faith, since the faith was the basis for initiatives and actions of all humans. Some Egyptian legends assert that prior to the creation, there was simply an ocean. Re, the sun-deity, emerged from an egg or a bloom, and from him, other gods came. One god turned into the universe, another into the firmament, the third the deity of the deceased and so on. Thus, the Egyptian gods symbolized diverse traits and significance.
Religion played a critical role in the lives of ancient Egyptians by influencing their tradition and making them resist changes. According to Vendel, the Egyptians did not have the courage to question the beliefs that had been inherited by them from their predecessors. Their main purpose all through their history was to follow the provisions which they assumed had existed since creation. One such tradition was the belief in divine kingship, which referred to the notion that Pharaoh was a political ruler (King) as well as a god. Pharaoh was considered to be the ancestor of Horus, the son of god Re. Later, it was alleged that at death pharaoh turned into Osiris that would provide help to Egyptians in the afterlife.
A large fraction of early Egyptian faith was their credence in life after death. Egyptians assumed the spirit to be constituted of three elements. The “ba” was believed to be individual’s personality or behavior; the “ka” was the twofold of the being. Lastly, the “akh” symbolized the being’s spirit following their demise. The Egyptian culture of mummification was an essential element of their sacred structure. It was alleged that unless the deceased person’s corpse was conserved, the individual’s spirit and body could not come together and therefore, this individual would not be capable of taking part in the life after death. Owing to the Egyptian deep faith in the afterlife and funerary performances, they put in huge efforts to guarantee the continued existence of their spirits after the demise by offering burial places, grave supplies and gifts to conserve the corpses and spirits of the dead.
Following the 539 BC invasion by Persia, there was no major change on the Egyptians with regards to their religion and gods. The Egyptians continued with their polytheism. During the Greek ruling in 323 BC, the Egyptians started to reverence some Greek deities, even though they continued worshiping the ancient Egyptian idols too. Once the Romans dominated Egypt in 30 BC, some Egyptians started to switch to Christianity. During the late 600s AD, nevertheless, with the emergence of Islam in Egypt, nearly all the Egyptians quickly switched from Christianity to Islam and since then, most Egyptians have pursued Islamic religion.
In conclusion, the geographical significance of gods in ancient Egypt surpassed beyond spiritual and religious spaces such as places of worship to incorporate non-official geographical spaces such as the sky, animals and seasons or climate. This paper has clearly pointed out the significance and relationship between the Egyptian gods and geography in both aspects of material and space to provide religious significance and meaning. Until humans totally comprehended the outlines of climate and weather, the natural forces were accredited to other earthly events. Although refined over time, the Egyptians still rely on the ancient natural observations and geographical forces involving humans like “the return of the snake.”