|“||Come day and night, I battle the dreaded Apophis. A task suited to me, and me alone. A task which none of my fellow gods can achieve. Why you may ask? Because I am the Sun. The light which shines upon the world. And I have no use for death.||„|
Ra is the Egyptian god of the sun, creation, and the king of the Egyptian gods. He is one of the oldest deities in the Egyptian pantheon and was later merged with others such as Horus, becoming Ra-Horakhty (the morning sun), Amun (as noonday sun), and Atum (the evening sun) associated with primal life-giving energy.
- 1 Appearance
- 2 History
- 3 Description
- 4 Deific Fusions
Ra had many different forms but his most common form was that of a falcon or falcon-headed man, especially when the deity being depicted was the composite Ra-Horakhty. But he was also often portrayed as a bearded man, a man with the head of a ram or scarab beetle, a solar disk with or without an encircling cobra as a symbol of power, or the benben, the pyramid-shaped hillock
In some myths Ra was self-created, and had created everything else as well, either directly or indirectly. In other myths he is the son of Khnum and Neith, making him the brother of Serket and Sobek. Most of the other gods were descendants of, or extensions of, Ra. According to one popular liturgical formula, Ra (and the sun god more generally) was “the one, from whom came millions,” in all myths he is the brother of the chaos snake Apep.
Ra is perhaps known for reviving the deceased Sentinel, Sauelsuesor. The sun god detected her lingering essence and noticed that it was fading at an alarming rate. Curious, he took hold of her essence, and gingerly placed it into the warm embrace of the sun. A sun spot formed in place around Ra's hand as it was plunged into the flames and when he slowly rose his hand, Sanna's head emerged laid unto the god's palm.
A total of seven sunspots formed in response to the reformation of Sanna within the sun itself with each spot being a part of her physical being, example where one sun spot became her arm, the other her leg, and the others her lower and upper body. The formation of these sun spots also took the shape of a symbol that was familiar only to Sanna. The symbols represent Sanna's "cleansing" of the her defilement at the hands of the Scarlet King, where Ra washed away the areas on her body that the Scarlet King touched.
After being fully resurrected, she was given a new name and a new purpose. She also developed a close bond with Ra.
The story relates how Ra has grown old and his human subjects begin to plot his overthrow. Ra is upset and calls a council of the other gods who encourage him to smite the humans for their ingratitude. Ra summons The Eye of Ra, usually personified as a goddess, which is a powerful force that alternately does Ra’s bidding or breaks free of his control to wreak havoc. Either way, The Eye of Ra always brings some form of transformation and this story aligns with all others concerning the Eye in this regard.
Hathor is the Eye of Ra here and is released to destroy humanity. She kills thousands before Ra realizes what he has done and repents, begging her to stop. Hathor has lost all reason through the slaughter, however, and become the savage Sekhmet who, in her rage, cannot hear him. Ra orders 7,000 jugs of beer to be dyed red to resemble blood and has them poured out on the plains of Dendera. Hathor-Sekhmet drinks the blood-beer, passes out, and wakes as Hathor who pledges herself as a friend to humanity henceforth.
Ra is tired of ruling over humans, however, and asks the goddess Nut to carry him into the heavens. Nut turns herself into a celestial cow and takes Ra skyward on her back. On his way, Ra creates the Field of Reeds and organizes the administration of the world, leaving it to the other gods. Human beings will henceforth be responsible for maintaining order in keeping with the will of these gods and Ra, having retired, will only concern himself with driving his great barge across the sky.
Ra on Earth
Prior to his departure, Ra ruled over his creation directly from earth. Ra created the laws which were later given to humanity by Osiris and Isis in the golden age of their reign before Osiris was murdered by his brother Set who usurped power (until he was defeated by Osiris’ and Isis’ son, Horus the Younger, who restored order). Ra’s presence on earth was recognized by sunlight and the growth of crops as well as the changing seasons.
Throughout the day, Ra sailed across the sky in his barge and then descended down into the underworld at night. The sun barge now transformed into the evening barge known as the Ship of a Million Souls which picked up the newly arrived and justified dead to bring them to the paradise of the Field of Reeds. Ra at this time becomes merged with Osiris, the judge of the dead, and Osiris is seen as the “corpse” and Ra as the “soul” of the single deity Ra-Osiris.
As this deity, Ra confers with Osiris on the deepest of levels, perhaps confirming which souls have been rightly justified before transporting them, and then traveling on through the underworld darkness toward the dawn of paradise. As the barge rolls through the underworld, it is attacked by the serpent Apophis who tries to kill Ra and prevent the sunrise. The gods onboard fight the serpent off with the help of the justified dead while, on earth, the living encourage the defenders through ritual ceremonies, channeling positive energies to strengthen those on board. Every night Apophis attacks, and every night he is defeated. Ra and his crew sail on toward dawn, the justified dead are delivered to their destination, and the sunrise was then seen as the sign that Ra was again victorious, and the Egyptians would see another day.
As the primary identity of the sun god, that most widespread and potent symbol for the divine in ancient Egypt, Ra’s status among the gods was virtually without equal. It was only fitting that it would have been he who created the cosmos, ruled it, and provided the model for all later rulers. And one can see how it would have been a great source of prestige for another god to be combined with Ra, the uttermost wellspring of cosmic power.
Ra’s power was far greater than that of any of the other gods, and it was inevitable that someone so able in every way would have become their king. His right to this position was sealed by the fact that, since the ancient Egyptians thought that the “natural” order and the political order were two inextricably intertwined aspects of a single, overarching cosmic order, Ra had created the political order and the institution of kingship along with the rest of the cosmos. Even after Ra’s own kingship ended, he remained the head of the divine council, and the ruler ship was passed to his son Shu, then to Shu’s son Geb, then to Geb’s son Osiris, and finally to Osiris’s son Horus.
Ra was the model for the human pharaoh. The human pharaoh was even identified as a god himself, and a descendant of Ra. Typically, this took the form of the pharaoh being hailed as the incarnation of Horus. Sometimes the pharaoh was also referred to simply as “Son of Ra.” In either case, the point was that the current pharaoh, and only the current pharaoh, had both the right and the ability to rule the cosmos due to his being from the line of the one who created it in the first place.
Ra is often fused with other gods to become more powerful, so that he can continue to rule over Egypt though the forms are temporary.
Amun and Ra (Amun-Ra)
Amun-Ra looks exactly like Amun, but he has the sun disk. Amun was a member of the Ogdoad, representing creation energies with Amaunet, a very early patron of Thebes. He was believed to create via breath and thus was identified with the wind rather than the sun. As the cults of Amun and Ra became increasingly popular in Upper and Lower Egypt respectively they were combined to create Amun-Ra, a solar creator god. The most common belief is that Amun-Ra was invented as a new state deity by the Theban rulers of the New Kingdom to unite worshipers of Amun with the older cult of Ra around the 18th Dynasty. Amun-Ra was given the official title "King of the God's" by worshippers, and images show the combined deity as a red-eyed man with a lion's head that had a surrounding solar disk.
Atum and Ra (Atum-Ra)
Atum-Ra, or Ra-Atum, looks exactly like Ra, since Atum is commonly said to be his human form. He was another composite deity formed from two completely separate deities, however Ra shared more similarities with Atum than with Amun. Atum was more closely linked with the sun, and was also a creator god of the Ennead. Both Ra and Atum were regarded as the father of the deities and pharaohs and were widely worshiped. In older myths, Atum was the creator of Tefnut and Shu, and he was born from ocean Nun.
Horakhty and Ra (Ra-Horakhty)
Looks exactly like Ra, sometimes with Horus' hat, Ra-Horakhty was more of a title or manifestation than a composite deity. It translates as "Ra (who is) Horus of the Horizons". It was intended to link Horakhty (as a sunrise-oriented aspect of Horus) to Ra. It has been suggested that Ra-Horakhty simply refers to the sun's journey from horizon to horizon as Ra, or that it means to show Ra as a symbolic deity of hope and rebirth. In some versions it is just a fusion of Horus and Ra.
Khepri and Ra (Ra-Khepri)
Khepri was a scarab beetle who rolled up the sun in the mornings and was sometimes seen as the morning manifestation of Ra. The idea of different deities (or different aspects of Ra) ruling over different times of the day was fairly common but variable. With Khepri taking precedence over sunrise Ra often was the representation of midday when the sun reached its peak at noon. Looks like Khepri but with the sun disc. Sometimes different aspects of Horus were used instead of Ra's aspects.
Khnum and Ra (Khnum-Ra)
Similarly, the ram-headed god Khnum was also seen as the evening manifestation of Ra. With Khnum taking precedence over sunset, Ra often was the representation of midday when the sun reached its peak at noon. Looks like Khnum, but with the sun disc.
Sobek and Ra (Sobek-Ra)
Has the body of crocodile and the head of Ra, not a lot is known about Sobek-Ra, it makes Sobek apart of the sun god.
Montu and Ra (Montu-Ra)
Not a lot is known about Montu-Ra, Montu is a very ancient god, and so he was originally a manifestation of the scorching effect of Ra, the sun — and as such often appeared under the epithet Montu-Ra.
Raet or Raet-Tawy was a female aspect of Ra; she did not have much importance independent of him. In some myths she was considered to be either Ra's wife or his daughter.
Also known as Shedet-Re-Horus, it's a fusion of the most powerful deities in the Egyptian pantheon (aside from Isis), it is a fusion of Sobek, Ra, and Horus (Shedet being a title of Sobek). It has never actually been seen by anyone, not even the gods themselves.