Horus is the name of a god of heaven in ancient Egyptian religion that primarily designates two deities: Horus the Elder (or Horus the Great), the last born of the first five original gods, and the god Horus the Younger, the son of Osiris and Isis.
He is the most important of the avian deities », which takes so many forms and is represented so differently in several inscriptions.
Horus is above all a general term for a large number of hawk deities ». While this is true, the name ‘Horus’ usually designates the oldest god of the first five or the son of Isis and Osiris who defeated his uncle Set and restored order on earth.
He was a powerful god of heaven associated with the sun, mainly, but also with the moon.
He was the protector of Egyptian royalty, avenger of evils, defender of order, unifier of the two lands and, based on his battles with Set, a war god regularly invoked by the ancient Egyptian rulers before the battle and praised after.
Horus the elder
Elder Horus is one of the oldest gods in Egypt, born of the union between Geb (earth) and Nut (heaven) shortly after the creation of the world.
His elder brother Osiris was given the responsibility of governing the earth along with Isis, while Horus was given responsibility for the sky and, specifically, the sun.
In another version of the story, Horus is Hathor’s son while, in others, she is his wife and sometimes she is Horus’ mother, wife and daughter.
In his role as The Distant performs the same task as the distant goddess, a function associated with Hathor (and a number of other female deities) that leave Ra and return, bringing transformation.
The sun and the moon were considered Horus’ eyes while watching the people of the world day and night, but he could also approach them in times of trouble or doubt.
Imagined like a hawk, he could fly away from Ra and return with vital information and, in the same way, he could quickly bring comfort to those in need.
The god Horus and the goddess Isis
The goddess Isis suffered a difficult pregnancy with an exceptionally long birth and gave birth to the falcon god alone in the swamps of the Delta.
She and her son hid from god Set and his demons in the bushes, only going out at night to eat accompanied by a bodyguard of seven scorpions that were given to her by the goddess Serket.
Isis, Serket and Neith raised Horus in exile until he reached adulthood and was strong enough to challenge his uncle for his father’s kingdom.
What does Horus symbolize?
Having defeated Set and restored order, the god Horus became known as Horu-Sema-Tawy, The Horus, Unifier of the Two Lands.
He restored his parents’ policies, rejuvenating the land, and ruled wisely. It is for this reason that the kings of Egypt, from the first dynastic period onwards, aligned themselves with the falcon god to rule in his name.
Osiris had been the first king of Egypt to establish order and then went to the underworld, while the god Horus was the king who restored that order after being overthrown by Set and who raised Egypt from chaos to harmony.
The Egyptian kings, therefore, identified with the god Horus in life and Osiris in death.
During his reign, they were the physical manifestation of the falcon god under the protection of Isis (a notable departure from this custom was King Peribsen, sixth king of the Second Dynasty, who clearly aligned himself with Set).
As the king of Egypt was the “great house” that protected his people, all the citizens of Egypt were under the protection of the god Horus.
He was revered in many ways and in many different places. “The hawk was worshiped along with other deities in many Egyptian temples.”
His importance as a unifier of the two lands and maintainer of order made him a representation of the concept of balance that was highly valued by the ancient Egyptians.
Cult of the god Horus
The god Horus was worshiped in the same way as any of the other gods of Egypt: the temples were built as houses for the god and his statue placed inside the inner sanctuary where only the high priest could assist him.
The clergy of the Cult of the falcon god were always masculine as they partnered with Horus and claimed protection from his `mother ‘Isis.
The Egyptian people came to the courtyard to ask for help or to receive alms, to give donations or to have their dreams interpreted.
They also visited the temple to receive advice, interpretation of omens, medical assistance, marriage counseling and to protect themselves from evil spirits or ghosts.
The places of worship of Horus are too numerous to list, but the main centers of worship were Khem, in the Delta region, where Horus was hidden as a child, Pe, the place where Horus lost his eye in his battle with Set, and Behdet (both also in the Delta).
In Upper Egypt he was worshiped together with Hathor and his son Harsomptus in Edfu and Kom Ombos.
Edfu hosted the annual Coronation of the Sacred Falcon “in which a royal hawk was selected to represent the god as king of all Egypt, thus uniting the ancient falcon god with his form of Horus son of Osiris and with the king.”
What do the four sons of god Horus represent?
This protection extended throughout life and beyond death. Horus was associated with life after death through his four children who protected the vital organs of the deceased.
These four gods represented the four cardinal points of the compass and each of them was presided over and protected by a goddess. The Four Sons of Horus were: Duamutef, Hapy, Imsety and Qebehsenuef.
What are the 4 canopic jars called?
Duamutef: A jackal god, who protected the stomach, represented the east and was protected by Neith.
Hapy: A baboon god, who protected the lungs, represented the north and was protected by Nephthys.
Imsety: A god in human form, who protected the liver, represented the south and was protected by Isis.
Qebehsenuef: A hawk god, who protected the intestines, represented the west and was protected by Serket.
These organs were stored in canopic jars that sometimes had the head of the protective god as a lid handle. The most famous example of the canopic protectors is the alabaster artifact from the tomb of Tutankhamun in which Isis, Neith, Nephthys and Serket are carved.
The four protective gods were represented as mummified men with their respective heads of jackals, baboons, humans and hawks.
God Horus is represented with the double crown, falcon-headed sun or as a winged hawk, so that served as a symbol of protection on doors and temples rooms. Together with his parents Osiris and Isis, they formed the most important triad of ancient Egyptian religion.