Skip to Main Content


Khepri at sunrise

Ra-Horakhty at noon

Atum at sunset and night
TitleThe Sun god
Cult CenterHeliopolis
ConsortDivine Cow Hathor
Sons and DaughtersThoth The god of wisdom
Shu the god of Air
Tefnut the goddess of moisture
The lioness goddess Sekhmet and her sister Bastet
Patron - Dominiongod of light - life - heat - supreme judge
Dedicated templestemples In Heliopolis (not survived time)
- Karnak temple
AppearanceMan with hawk head
Headdress with a sun disk
Greek equivalentApollo
Historical DevelopmentsRa was one of the most important god since Pre-Dynastic Period
- The only important god who was worshiped with consistency through all history
- Father and the King of All gods,
- One Of The Creators of the World along with Ptah and Amun
- Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom venerated Him as their family patron, and called themselves "sons of Ra" in official titles and constructed sun- temples and pyramids.
- His popularity in Egypt was immanent as sunlight itself, continued throughout history, even great Names as Amun and Ptah had to "share the spotlight" with him
- In Amun's case, during the New Kingdom, a composite Name Amun -Ra was created to avoid slighting either cult,
- He lives within the actual physical disk of sun, described in myth as the " boat of Millions of Years" which rises and sets each day, riding from horizon to horizon on the back of Night, and traversing during the hours of darkness the underworld where his enemies reside. Daily Journey - Ra takes three manifestations
  1. Khepri
    Every day at sunrise Ra emerged from a blue lotus flower, only to immediately transform into Khepri
    Khepri is the morning manifestation of Ra represented by the sacred scarab
    Since the scarab beetle lays its eggs in dung, from which they emerge having been born, the ancient Egyptians believed that scarab beetles were created from dead matter.
    Beetles pushed the ball into the sun so that the sun's heat hatched the egg, giving life. Because of this, they associated the Khepri with rebirth and resurrection
    Khepri was principally depicted as a whole scarab beetle, or a human male with a scarab as a head The boat used by Khepri in the morning is called Matet, which meant becoming stronger
  2. Horakhty (Horus the Elder)
    Around noon, when the sun is at its full power, Ra becomes Horakhty, or "Horus of the two horizons"
    This was the most popular form of Ra, patron of the Pharaoh
    The Pharaohs were mortal manifestations of Horakhty, who appointed them as "shepherds of the Land"
    In this manifestation Ra-Horakhty was the husband of Hathor and Isis
    The Four Sons of Horus the Elder were grouped together and generally said to be born of Isis
    He was depicted as a falcon or a falcon-headed man wearing the solar disk and the Double Crown and the Uraeus
    His face was visualized as the face of the sun
    He carries the two scepters of kingship, the Crook and Flail, thus identifying Horakhty as the ruling king in the sky and signifying that the Pharaoh embodies him on earth
  3. Atum
    At sunset, when the sun is said to be weak and growing old, Ra becomes Atum, who symbolized the setting sun and its journey through the underworld to its rising in the east.
    Atum's name is derived from the word 'tem' which means to complete or finish. Thus he has been interpreted as being the 'complete one' and also the finisher of the day
    From midday on Atum travels in the Semktet boat, which means growing weaker.
    The Sky goddess Nut Swallows Atum at night and gives birth to it again at dawn, every day
    Each night Apep attempted to disrupt the passage of the solar barque of Atum, and attacked him in the Tenth region of the Night
    Atum always wins this battle and emerges from the eastern horizon as Khepri
    Atum was depicted in art as a man wearing the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt

Top of Page

By Ayman Fadl - Copyright © 2001-2014