The Egyptian gods and goddesses were mostly, at least partly anthropomorphic -- human shaped -- deities who behaved like humans and walked among mortals. Gods were not worshiped in the same way throughout Egypt or throughout time. Particular locations and pharaohs favored one set of gods over another. Here is a summary list of some of the major gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt and their primary functions.
Anubis was a funerary god. His task came to be holding the scales on which the heart was weighed. If the heart was lighter than a feather, the dead would be led by Anubis to Osiris. If heavier, the soul would be destroyed.
Bast or Bastet
Bast is usually show with a feline head or ears on a woman's body or as a (usually, non-domestic) cat. The cat was her sacred animal. She was a daughter of Ra and was a protective goddess. Tour Egypt says another name for Bast is Ailuros and says she was originally a sun goddess who came to be associated with the moon after contact with the Greek goddess Artemis.
Bes or BisuBes may have been an imported Egyptian god, possibly of Nubian origin. Bes is depicted as a dwarf sticking out his tongue, in full frontal view instead of the profile view of most of the other Egyptian gods. Bes was a protector god who helped in childbirth and promoted fertility. He was a guardian against snakes and misfortune.
Geb or KebGeb, god of the earth, was an Egyptian fertility god who laid the egg from which the sun was hatched. He was known as the Great Cackler because of his association with geese. The goose was Geb's sacred animal. He was worshiped in Lower Egypt, where he was depicted as bearded with a goose on his head or a white crown. His laughter was thought to cause earthquakes. Geb married his sister Nut, the sky goddess. Set(h) and Nephthys were children of Geb and Nut. Geb is often shown witnessing the weighing of the heart during the judgment of the dead in the afterlife. Tour Egypt says Geb was associated with the Greek god Kronos.
Hathor was an Egyptian cow-goddess and personification of the Milky Way. She was the wife or daughter of Ra and mother of Horus in some traditions.
Horus was normally considered the son of Osiris and Isis. He was the pharaoh's protector and also patron of young men. Tour Egypt lists these other names for him:
- Harendotes/Har-nedj-itef (Horus the Avenger)
- Har-Pa-Neb-Taui (Horus Lord of the Two Lands)
Neith (Nit (Net, Neit) is a predynastic Egyptian goddess who is compared with the Greek goddess Athena. She is mentioned in Plato's Timaeus as coming from the Egyptian district of Sais. Neith is depicted as a weaver, like Athena, and also like Athena as a weapon-bearing war goddess. She is also shown wearing a red crown for Lower Egypt. Neith is another mortuary god connected with the woven bandages of the mummy.
Isis was the great Egyptian goddess, wife of Osiris, mother of Horus, sister of Osiris, Set, and Nephthys, and daughter of Geb and Nut, who was worshiped all over Egypt and elsewhere. She searched for her husband's body, retrieved and reassembled Osiris, taking on the role of goddess of the dead. She then impregnated herself from Osiris' body and gave birth to Horus whom she raised in secrecy to keep him safe from Osiris' killer, Seth. She was associated with life, the winds, the heavens, beer, abundance, magic, and more. Isis is shown as a beautiful woman wearing a sun disk.
Nephthys (Nebet-het, Nebt-het) is the head of the household of the gods, and was the daughter of Seb and Nut, sister of Osiris, Isis, and Set, wife of Set, mother of Anubis, either by Osiris or Set. Nephthys is sometimes depicted as a falcon or as a woman with falcon wings. Nephthys was a death goddess as well as being a goddess of women and the house and a companion of Isis.
Nut (Nuit, Newet, and Neuth) is the Egyptian sky goddess depicted supporting the sky with her back, her body blue and covered with stars. Nut is the daughter of Shu and Tefnut, the wife of Geb, and mother of Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nepthys.