Unlike other pagan pantheons, the Egyptian pantheon is the most unique in its structure and belief of their deities. Most pantheons consisted of male, female and androgynous Gods. However the Egyptians took it one step further and included animal deities too. Like the Native Americans, the Egyptian’s looked closely at the essence of an animal rather than honouring the physical animal itself. That said, there were beliefs and teaching’s in how to look after the physical counterparts of these Deities, in a way looking after animals on earth like they were physical manifestation’s of deity. One such lore was, you had to look after any cats that came your way, so if your neighbour’s cat happened to come to your house looking hungry and tired, you were supposed to feed it and nurture it until it wanted no more. If you killed a cat, that was punishable by death. I’m not 100% when that law was passed but I came across it when reading up on the early life of Ramses II, so roughly around Dynasty 19 1298BC to 1187BC, or any time before or during the time his father Sethi I 1279BC to 1213BC.
Some of Egypt’s most honoured animal Deities are Anpu (Anubis), Sekhmet, Sobek, Heru (Horus both younger and elder) and Thuthi (Thoth). The way the Egyptians looked at the animals was simple, they looked at what signs and symbols they made during a normal day and related them to the cycle of life and the ways in which they communicated and lived amongst one another. For example, the most commonly known theory as to why Ra was sometimes depicted as a dung beetle spurred about the creation story in the context of the birth and death of the sun each day. A dung beetle will roll large balls of dung until it the ball is big enough and in an area of the desert close to vegetation. Then it will leave and wait. Over a few days or weeks, the ball will dry and as if by magick it will separate from the inside, as if something is tearing it apart, but inside were dung beetle eggs that have hatched and are eating their way out. The dung is what keeps the eggs warm and it’s provided as food, and since most faecal droppings from omnivores are the by product of plants and soil this would be seen as nature nurturing life. The Egyptian priest would make several counts to this ‘phenomenon’ and relate it through storytelling and spiritual teachings. The dung beetle was immortalised as Khepri (a manifestation of Ra), the ball of dung was the sun who is Ra of the Morning, Noon and Sunset. Teaching the early peoples about the mystical rising of the sun and it’s apparent death was explained by the beetle ‘rising the sun’, nurturing it, and the destruction of the Morning Star then ending the cycle (during nightfall) with Khepri ‘rising Ra’ as new life each dawn.
If you look at the myths of Ancient Egypt and look into their symbolism and how the priests would carry out rituals to honour certain deities you’ll begin to notice early sympathetic magick. This can also be used as an explanation for the Law of Attraction in ancient times (like attracts like) and the creation of statues for prayer, devotion and honour. If you look at the funerary rites on various scrolls the priests were famously seen wearing head dresses made to resemble Anpu. This kind of magick is as old as time, and has been seen and studied worldwide.
Animals, no matter how much some people refuse to acknowledge their relationship with them, were just as important to the ancient people as they should be now. There are only a few pagan paths that honour all things including animals and the Egyptians were one of them.
On a more personal level, this is part of the spiritual reason why I don’t eat meat. I’ve always wondered why I’m so akin to animals, and not just on a scientific level, it goes beyond the shared DNA of humans and animals, but the spiritual connection between man, animal and the Gods. We re-enact the rites of the Gods throughout the year, animals so to in their own way as physical parts of Deity all around.
😀 Sy x