Ra is the most influential of the ancient Kemetic gods. He is a sun god who was the king of the ancient Kemetic pantheon and the creator of all life. Ra is the supreme power in the universe. The giver of life, he was often merged with the god Amun as Amun-Ra. Ra as the head of the Kemetic pantheon and ruler of all the gods.
His principal cult centre was at Heliopolis (“sun city”), near modern, day Cairo. The stories of Ra, related in ancient Kemetic mythology, adopted the role of Atum in the creation myth of the gods of Heliopolis. Ra emerged from the prime eval waters as Ra-Atum, and created Tefnut (Moisture) and Shu (Air). From this first divine pair sprang the sky goddess Nut, and earth god Geb, who created the universe and gave birth to the gods Ausar, Auset, Seth, and Nephthys.
The great sun temple located in the City of Heliopolis, Kemet, was dedicated to the solar god Ra, and was the mythical home of the Tree of Life. The fruit of the Tree of Life gave Eternal Life and the Knowledge of the Divine Plan. The fruit of the Tree of Life was believed to relate to eternal life with which the gods refreshed aging Pharaohs, further symbolizing the Pharaohs unity with the gods. The Tree of Life was the Seat of the mythical Bennu Bird, a phoenix-like bird with beautiful red and golden feathers that symbolized resurrection and the rising sun. The Ben-Ben Stone was believed to be the beacon for the mythical Bennu Bird.
Ra first ruled a golden age. Everything he saw was perfect, and the sight of such wonders brought tears to his eyes. In time, however, Ra became angry with the humans because of their actions. He summoned his divine eye, the beautiful goddess Ha thor, and transformed her into Sekhmet, a savage lioness. Ra sent the lioness to earth to kill humans, but after she had caused massive bloodshed, he decided to save the humans that remained. He played a trick on Sekhmet, getting her so drunk on beer that she forgot to continue killing. Nevertheless, death had now been introduced into the world.
Ra and the Pharaohs.
The first references to Ra date from the Second Dynasty of the Old Kingdom , 2686 BC to 2181 BC. Ra the sun god became so important that the Pharaohs took to calling themselves the “sons of Ra”. His worship had increased massively in the fifth dynasty of the period known as the Old Kingdom, when Ra became a state deity. The Kemetic kings and pharaohs had specially aligned pyramids, obelisks, and sun temples built in his honor. The first Pyramid Texts, which eventually formed part of the Book of the Dead, began to arise, giving Ra more and more significance in the journey of the pharaoh through the Underworld. After his death, the Pharaoh was said to ascend into the sky to join the entourage of Ra, the sun god. During the Middle Kingdom period, 2040 BC, to 1782, BC), Ra was increasingly affiliated and combined with other chief deities. By the period of the New Kingdom , the worship of Ra had became more complicated and ostentatious, and the notion that Ra aged with the sun became popular. The walls of tombs depicted Ra’s journey through the underworld carrying the prayers and blessings of the living with the souls of the dead on the sun boat.
The Sun Boat of Ra
the Sun Boat of Ra, was believed to carry the solar god across the heavens. The Sun Boat was a great ship, called the ‘Barque of Ages’, in which Ra and his companion gods sailed through the sky, giving light to the world and then through the perilous journey of the night, sailing through the underworld. The companion gods of Ra helped defend the sun god against the Serpent god Apep, which represented the victory of right over wrong. The Sun Boat is also the ship in which the gods traveled from the heavens to earth. when it was used to travel between the worlds, the Sun Boat is called “The Boat of a Million Years”. There were many prayers and spells to help Ra, and the sun boat, overcome Apep the evil serpent.
Amun-Ra was also popular in Nubia and was the chief deity of the Nubian Kingdom of Napata during the Twenty fifth Dynasty. The Greeks associated Ra with Zeus and so he remained popular during the Ptolemaic Period.
Nubian art often represented him with the solar disk – a circle drawn over the head of deities associated with the sun . Frequently Ra was depicted with the body of a man and the head of a falcon . Ra’s human body and falcon head were often similar to depictions of the god Horus , the difference being that Horus wore a crown on his head while Ra wore the disk of the sun encircled by a cobra. The association with the cobra suggested his fierce and destructive nature. Ra was usually shown holding a scepter in one hand and an aunkh in the other .
Ra appeared in other forms , depending on the role he was playing at the moment. i am Khepri in the morning , and Ra at mid day, and Atum in the evening . Khepri was the god of the scarab beetle , and in Africa the worship of the scarab was much older than the worship of Ra . That Ra became associated with Khepri and the scarab is further evidence that the priests of Ra were able to assimilate their more recent god with the established ones . This particular association , however , had a fascinating biological origin . Ancient Kemites had observed that the scarab beetle laid its egg in dung and then pushed it around on the ground until it became a ball . The Kemites imagined that the ball symbolized the sun because it was round . gave off heat , and was the source of life , and because it seemed to represent the self creative powers of the sun god . They then pictured the sun being pushed across the sky by a giant beetle . Eventually this imagery became associated with death and rebirth too , since it appeared that beetle had died and was born again when the larva emerged from the ball .
Ra has been associated with the sun, heaven, light, power, king shep and the creation of the universe. He is considered to be the father of the Gods.
The sun is the bestower of light and life to the totality of the cosmos; with his unblinking, all-seeing eye, he is the stern guarantor of justice; with the almost universal connection of light with en light en ment or illumination, the sun is the source of wisdom.
These qualities; sovereignty, power of beneficence, justice, and wisdom—are central to any elite religious group, and it is within these contexts that a highly developed solar ideology is founded. Kings ruled by the power of the sun and claimed descent from the sun. Solar deities, gods personifying the sun, are sovereign and all-seeing. The sun is often a prime attribute of or is identified with the Supreme Deity.
The sun was one of the most popular deities, however, among the Indo-European peoples and was a symbol of divine power to them. Sura ya is glorified in the Vedas of ancient India as an all-seeing god who observes both good and evil actions. He expels not only darkness but also evil dreams and diseases. Sun heroes and sun kings also occupy a central position in Indian mythology, where Vivasa vant, the father of Yama, corresponds to the Iranian Vivahvant, the father of Yima.
he ancient Chaldeans worshiped a pantheon of male and female gods representing the sun god.
There are many links between ancient sun worship and Catholicism. In Chaldean times, the head of the church was the representative of the god Dagon. He was considered to be infallible, and was addressed as “Your Holiness.” Nations subdued by Babylon had to kiss the ring and slipper of the Babylonian god-king.
The word Amen, derives from the ancient Kemetic god, Amen-Ra or, Amun-Ra. Amun was an old god, but as his cult grew larger, he became associated with Ra-Herakhty, who sent their prayers through the “sun of god”, Amen-Ra.