Names in ancient Egypt were very mystic and powerful. It was thought that if you inscribed your enemies’ name on something, then broke it, that enemy would either be afflicted, or possibly die.
If you knew a name you had power. In the same respect, using a name could be beneficial. Each god had five names, and each was associated with an element, such as air, with celestial bodies, or were a descriptive statement about the god, such as strong, virile or majestic.
The creator of all things was either Re, Amun, Ptah, Khnum or Aten, depending on which version of the myth was currently in use. The heavens were represented by Hathor, Bat, and Horus. Osiris was an earth god as was Ptah. The annual flooding of the Nile was Hapi. Storms, evil and confusion were Seth. His counterpart was Ma’at, who represented balance, justice and truth. The moon was Thoth and Khonsu. Re, the sun god, took on many forms, and transcended most of the borders that contained the other gods. The actual shape of the sun, the disk (or, aten), was deified into another god, Aten.
Certain gods were worshipped in different areas. Local cities or villages, known as nomes, often had unique gods that were known only to that region. On occasion, these gods attained country -wide recognition and became the myths and legends that were passed on from century to century. Below is a listing of the main gods and their primary place of worship.
Amaunet – A female counterpart to Amon and one of the primordial gods of the Hermopolitian Ogdoad (group of eight gods). She was also worshipped at Thebes along with Amon and Mut.
Amon – Usually associated with the wind, or things hidden, and was also of the Hermopolitian Ogdoad. At Thebes he became Amon-Re, king of the gods. He was part of the Theban Triad, along with Mut and Khonsu.
Antaios – He was originally a double god, “the two falcons”, that was later joined to create one, probably that of Horus.
Anuket – Worshipped at Elephantine, she was associated with the gazelle.
Apis – Seen as the bull with a solar disk between its horns, Apis was associated with Osiris and Ptah.
Aton – Also known as Aten, he was worshipped at Tell ‘Amarna.
Atum – A primordial god that was represented in the form of a human and a serpent. He was the supreme god in the Heliopolitan Ennead (group of nine gods) and formed with Re to create Re-Atum.
Hathor – The goddess of love, dance and alcohol was depicted as a cow. At Thebes she was also the goddess of the dead. She was worshipped at Dendera as the consort of Horus and Edfu, and was associated with Isis at Byblos.
Horus – The earliest royal god was the shape of a falcon, with the sun and moon as his eyes. The sky-god was the ruler of the day. The many forms of Horus are; Re-Harakhti, Harsiesis, Haroeris, Harendotes, Khenti-irti, Khentekhtay (the crocodile-god), and Harmakhis, which is Horus on the horizons, in which the Sphinx of Giza is considered to be his aspect.
Isis – The mother of Horus and sister and consort of Osiris was worshipped at Philae. Associated with Astarte, Hathor, Nut and Sothis, she was later worshipped over the entire Roman Empire.
Khnum – Resembling a human with a rams head, he was worshipped in Hypselis, Esna, Antinoe and Elephantine.
Khonsu – the moon god was the son of Amon and Mut. The main temple at Karnak is dedicated to him.
Min – God of fertility coalesced with Amon and Horus. Min was mainly worshipped at Coptos and Akhmim.
Mut – Worshipped at Thebes, she was a consort of Amon and part of the Theban Triad (group of three gods).
Nut – Mother of the sun, moon and heavenly bodies.
Osiris – He is regarded as the dead king that watches over the nether world and is rejuvenated in his son Horus. As the symbol of eternal life he was worshipped at Abydosand Philae.
Ptah – Worshipped in Memphis, he coalesced with Sokaris and Osiris.
Re – He was the sun god of Heliopolis. From the fifth Dynasty onwards he becomes a national god and is combined with the supreme deity Amon.
Serapis – He was mainly worshipped in Alexandria and was later worshipped by the Greeks as Zeus. He was never fully accepted by the Egyptians in the Ptolemaic period.
Sekhmet – She was part of the Memphite Triad with Ptah and Nefertem. She was the mistress of war and sickness.
Seth – The son of Geb and Nut in the Heliopolitan Ennead was in the form of an animal that has no zoological equivalent. This powerful god was regarded as god of the desert, making him a god of foreign lands.
Shu – He was an ancient cosmic power and was regarded as the god of the air and the bearer of heaven.
Sobek – He was a crocodile god and was worshipped at the Faiyum and Ombos. During the middle Kingdom he coalesced with Re, Sobek-Re, and was worshipped as primordial deity and creator-god.
Thoth – He was worshipped as a baboon in Hermopolis. He was the god of sacred writings and wisdom.