The Egyptian Civilisation and the Sun Cult in a Water Perspective
By Terje Ostigard
Transference. Interdisciplinary Communications 2008/2009
Introduction: In the Egyptian civilisation (ca.3000-332 BCE) the sun ideology and cult dominated the religious life. Ra was the sun and all the pharaohs were the son of Ra – Horus. The triggers off a question. Why was not the river Nile the most supreme of all gods and goddesses in Egypt? This question may at the outset seem quite inferior and minor compared to studies of the religious ideas regarding why the pyramids were built, but “in these deserts the river was life itself. Had it failed to flow, even for one season, then all Egypt perished. Not to know where the stream came from, not to have any sort of guarantee that it would continue – this was to live in a state of insecurity where only fatalism or superstition could reassure the mind. Without water everyone would have died within a short time in the extreme heat. Still, despite the Nile’s fundamental and vital role in the Egyptian civilisation, it did never attain the greatness as a supreme god, but the sun, however, became Egypt’s greatest deity ever. “Although the Nile was the obvious river of life to the early men of Egypt it was not the great river and its precious waters that first stirred thoughts of worship in their primitive minds. It was the sun, relentless bearer of death, that they supplicated.” This is seemingly a paradox. Why worship the sun and not the Nile in a desert environment when the temperatures during the summer approach 50 degrees C? This, at the outset the sun-cult in Egypt, in the desert land where all life was dependent upon the Nile, seems mysterious and illogical.