Myths of a culture are attempts by people to explain the world or environment in which they live in. Each culture has its own myths which are considered as universal truths by the communities. They try to explain their origin, and how they came to be. Mythology refers to a group of myths which form a mythological system. Ancient Egyptian mythology refers to a collection of myths which were used by the ancient Egyptians. Egyptian mythology, more specifically their religious beliefs were a dominating factor in the development of their culture. Their faith was grounded on a collection of olden myths. These myths explain how the earth was formed, and also formed the basis of their religious activities.
The creation myth
According to the Egyptian account of creation, the only thing that existed was the ocean. It was called Nun. Then the sun, Ra, was formed from an egg (some versions say from a flower). Ra was powerful, and he could take many forms. Ra commanded the sun to rise, pass across the sky and set in the evening. Then Ra named Shu, and the first winds blew. Next he named Tefnut and the first rains fell. He later named Geb and the earth came into existence. He then named the goddess Nut and the sky domed over the earth. He then named Hapi, and the great River Nile flowed through Egypt, makig it fruitful. This was a very important river in ancient Egypt as it is today. Re then named all things that are on earth, and they all came into being. Last of all, he named mankind, and Egypt was filled with men and women. Re became the first Pharaoh of Egypt. Ra was worshiped by all the people in the earth. Geb and Nut bore two sons, Set and Osiris, and two daughters, Isis and Nephthys. Osiris later came to succeed Ra as the king of the earth. Seth hated him and killed him. Isis then preserved Seth’s body with the help of Anubis, who later became the god of the dead. Isis had very powerful charms. She resurrected Osiris, who became the king of the land of the dead. Horus, son of Osiris and Isis, later defeated Seth and became the king of the earth.
From this myth, there arises a group of divinities, nine in number. They formed the ennead, which was made up of a triad. The triad composed of the father, mother and son. Each confined temple in Egypt had its own ennead and triad. The ennead of Ra and his children was the greatest. This group was worshiped at a mighty temple in Heliopolis, the center of sun worship. Apart from these gods, there were others, whose origin is unclear. Some were even taken from foreign religions. They were the gods Amon, Thoth, Ptah, Khnemu, Hapi, and goddesses Hathor, Mut, Neit and Sekhet. These gods were worshiped depending on the beliefs of the reigning king. For example, the ennead of Memphis was led by a triad made up of father Ptah, mother Sekhet and son Imhotep. In this era, Ptah became one of the greatest gods in Egypt. This myth explains the formation of earth and the people of Egypt.
The destruction of humankind myth
This myth explains how death started and why it started. During the time that Ra was king of the earth, he started to become old. Humans began mocking him, and stopped following his rules. They started to plan against him, saying he was too weak to rule them. Ra, on seeing this, called all the gods secretly, and told them about the plot by humans. They all agreed to send the eye of Ra, Hathor, to take revenge on earth. Hathor turned on her rage and persuaded humans. She slayed them and drank their blood. She came back to report to Ra how she had demolished humankind. This continued on until Ra feared that all humankind would be wiped out. He devised a plan to stop the goddess. He ordered his servants to mix beer with a great amount of red mineral. This mixture was poured where the goddess was to start destroying mankind the following day. When she arrived, she though it was blood ad she drank it. The beer took its toll on her and that day she returned without killing anyone. Ra then bestowed upon her the nature of love and strength of desire. From then, the people celebrated by drinking beer colored with the red mineral each New Year in her remembrance. That is how mankind was saved. From this myth, we learn it is very important for man to honor their creator. No matter the circumstances the creator may be in, respect should be given to him. His laws should be followed to avoid his wrath, which may be very disastrous.
The burying ritual
Burying the dead in ancient Egypt was a religious concern. They believed that the energetic life-force was composed of numerous elements, the main one being ka, a duplicate of the body. The ka accompanied the body through life and after death. However, the ka could only exist together with the body, hence they made every effort to preserve the body. The ka was judged by Osiris after arriving in the kingdom of the dead. If found a sinner, the ka was condemned to hunger or death, but if it was found to be of proper conduct, it was sent to the heavenly realm of fields where existence was a glorified version of earth.
This myth explains the way the ancient Egyptians respected life. They always ensured that they gave the dead a proper sending to prepare them for life to come after death.
Myths explain the lifestyle of a community. In the myths discussed above, they try to explain the way the Egyptians came to be, their practices and their way of worship. They also show what they believed in. they try and explain why they did things the way they did them the way they did. This is similar to other myths. They all try to explain the creation and the way they conduct their activities.