The Egyptian God Ra is the great sun god. He is considered by many as the most important immortal in Egyptian mythology. The ancient Egyptians saw Ra as the god who was responsible for all creation. Ra is a fundamental god in the Egyptian temple, and he was a very powerful deity during the Egyptian time period. He was worshiped more than any other god. Even pharaohs looked at themselves through the “Eye of Ra” as being an earthly embodiment of the immortal sun god.
The first known reference to Ra in ancient Egypt was made during the Second Dynasty (2890 – 2686 BC). His rise to a major god was during the Fifth Dynasty (2494 – 2345 BC). Describing and understanding Ra can be hard because of the many different forms he took. He practiced making new deities by merging with existing deities. Ra made himself as a creator god before his name was combined with many other gods, including Atum and Horus. This resulted in new identities such as Atum-Ra and Ra-Horakhty.
Fun Facts About the Sun God Ra
- Legend has it that the ancient Egyptians believed he created man from his sweat and tears, and he brought them into existence by using their secret names.
- A beetle called Khepri, at sunrise rolled up the sun was seen as his morning appearance.
- At sunset he manifested into Khnum, who is another creator god, normally seen as a ram’s head.
- When the sun was the strongest at noon, he was just Ra the sun god.
- The “Eye of Ra” is an extension of his power. In Egyptian mythology, a feminine counterpart exists to the sun god. His daughters Sekhmet, Hathor, and Bastet were all instruments of his vengeance and part of the “Eye of Ra.”
- The god of wind Shu and the goddess of rain Tefnut was fathered by Ra together with Atum. Tefnut gave birth to Geb and Nut, who were the parents of Nephthys, Set, Isis, and Osiris.
- The god of chaos Apep was his greatest adversary. Legend has it that Apep tried to swallow Ra as he entered the underworld which caused the sun to set. After he spit Ra out of his mouth, the sun rose again.
- There were a lot of solar temples built in Ra’s honor; however, none of them had a statue of him. He was represented instead, by the sunlight flowing through the temple.
- In Egyptian mythology, Ra is linked to the Tree of Life, which is a sacred symbol in Heliopolis’s solar temple. The fruit from this tree furnished eternal life, but it was for aging pharaohs and gods only.
- Ra’s soul was represented by the mythological phoenix Bennu, who was seated to the Tree of Life.
- Heliopolis, which means “sun city” in Greek, was the primary seat of Ra’s worship. In ancient Egypt, it is known as lunu, “the place of pillars.” The remains have survived to this day.
- The rise of Christianity in 30 BC, when the Romans defeated Egypt, was when Ra’s worship started to fade.
- According to some historians, the pyramids could represent the rays of sunlight; furthermore, connecting the sun god Ra, with the pharaohs.
- Ra was joined by many other gods during his journey in the heavens including Anet, Abtu, Maat, Hathor, Thoth, and Hathor.
- Ra’s mother Nut, is known as the goddess of the heavens and sky because he is reborn every morning when he emerges from her.
- Khepri is known as the scarab god and is Ra’s morning manifestation.
- Khnum is known as the ram-headed god and is Ra’s evening manifestation.
- Ra’s crown is encircled by a sacred cobra that symbolized sovereignty, royalty, and divine authority.
- The left eye of Ra represents the moon, while the right represent the sun.
The Image of the Sun God Ra
Ra is represented and pictured in a lot of ancient Egyptian art that can be found in tombs, hieroglyphics, relics, and temples. He was usually depicted in human form with a falcon head that is crowned on a sun disc. Uraeus, which is a sacred cobra encircles the disc. His head also took the shape of a beetle or ram, depending on the deity that he merged with.
The Eulogy of Ra
The sun god Ra, grew old as the evening approached and died each night. There is no specific documentation of Ra’s death. According to legend, Ra was resurrected. Although the circumstances are somewhat complicated, and it could have two different concepts of resurrection and death. He was a primeval god; however, he was a king who grew old. Upon his death, he became the supreme ruler of the heavens, and he endured death every night and was reborn every morning.