Monday, April 16, 2018

Maat – Ancient Egypt’s Most Important Religious Concept

In the end we have a codified code of conduct applying to all throughout society.  Any such code must compare favorably to any other such code unless you insist that the precepts of barbarism hold sway.  Thus it is certain that this was in the background of Judaism and Christianity.

Thus the contemplation of Maat had operated for at least 2000 years prior to our own religions.  how this applied to paganism is another question.  The nasty aspects of Baal come to mind, but there we remain mostly uninformed.

This is well worth recalling when reading other bodies of scripture.

Maat – Ancient Egypt’s Most Important Religious Concept | April 4, 2018 | Featured Stories, Myths & Legends, News
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A. Sutherland - - Maat represented the most essential religious concept of the Egyptian view of the world. It was a concept of order of the world that the gods, pharaohs and ordinary people had to obey.

Maat was the Harmony or Law of the Universe. Lack of Maat and her departure meant an inevitable return to the original chaos (Nu) and the end of the known world.

Goddess Maat Was A Symbol Of Balance, Truth, Justice And Wisdom

Like many Egyptian deities with a human form, Maat was an abstract goddess of great symbolic importance. For example, Maat was responsible for balance between the gods and people, and between the two sexes.

As previously mentioned on Ancient Pages, Egyptian cosmology and Goddess Maat were the reason why ancient Egyptian women and men had the same rights.

Ancient Egyptians viewed the universe as a complete duality of male and female. When the Universe was born, there existed a mutual relationship between gods and goddess. Female gods were just as important as male gods, we wrote in our earlier article.

Egyptian goddess Maat Ma'at (Mayet) also symbolized wisdom, truth and justice and Maat gods were considered to be judges, or other important state officials representing the laws of being, truth and universal order.

However, the highest priest was always the pharaoh himself.

Egyptian goddess Maat (Ma’at)

Depictions of Maat as a goddess began to appear as early as the middle of the Old Kingdom (c. 2680 to 2190 BC) and showed Maat as a woman sitting or standing and holding the sceptre in one hand and the ankh in the other. An ostrich feather (her emblem), often decorated the goddess’s head. The meaning of this feather was most probably “lightness and good deeds”.

Demon Ammit And The “Weighing Of The Heart” Ceremony

In beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, this feather played an important role during the final judgment. People believed that before entering the afterlife, the deceased were expected to deny all the evil deeds they might have committed in their lifetime.

So, they appeared before the goddess of truth, Maat, to go through this confrontation.

During the “Weighing of the Heart” ceremony, the feather's light weight was used as a counterweight to the human heart, which was believed to be - the cornerstone of the soul.

Ammit ("Eater of Hearts") was a female demon and goddess with a body that was combination of lion, hippopotamus and her head was that of a crocodile. Ammit who resided in the Hall of Ma'at, was always awaiting the ceremony's end and judgment for the departed and deceased souls. If the heart was heavier than the feather, the number of bad deeds of this person was too big and the soul (Ba) would be consumed by Ammit.

However, if the heart was lighter than the feather of Maat, or its weight was equal, the soul could live on in the afterlife, help Osiris, the god of the afterlife, in judgment, associate with other souls, or even return to earth periodically to visit some places the person had loved in life.

The Pharaoh Was Responsible For Maintenance Of The Maat System

The cult of the goddess Maat has been known practically since the beginning of the Egyptian religion. It was connected with the norms and laws of Egyptian society and regulated the relationship between Pharaoh and his people.

The most important task of the pharaohs was to maintain the order of the world and a special ritual was performed in all temples to honor Maat.

The pharaoh had the greatest responsibility to guarantee the world order, to establish rights and to take care of the country and its people. In a way, the pharaoh symbolized the maintenance of the Maat system, which sometimes was seriously threatened.

In 1650 B.C, Egypt was invaded by a group of foreigners who called themselves, Hyksos. As we wrote in one of our articles on Ancient Pages, the Hyksos people established a powerful empire in large parts of ancient Egypt. This Hyksos Empire lasted over 100 years and seriously disturbed the Maat order.

Finally, the pharaoh Kamose, the last king of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty managed to liberate the country from the Hyksos. Then, it was publicly announced that goddess Maat had returned, and the world is no longer in danger.

It is worth noting that according to these ancient Egyptian beliefs, every wicked act and each misuse of the world's order could permanently corrupt the Maat.

The Maat system became vulnerable, which in consequence could lead to the end of the world much sooner.

As we mentioned in another of our articles, it is also interesting to note that the Ten Commandments are very similar to the 42 Principles of Maat that appeared at least 2,000 earlier. There is reason to seriously consider at least 8 of the Christian Ten Commandments were based on Ma’at (or Maat), an ancient ethical and moral principle that every Egyptian citizen was expected to follow throughout their daily lives.

Written by – A. Sutherland Staff Writer

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