The Ennead (meaning a collection of nine things) was a group of nine deities in Egyptian mythology. The Ennead were worshipped at Heliopolis and consisted of the god Atum, his children Shu and Tefnut, their children Geb and Nut and their children Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. Egyptian mythology established multiple such groupings of deities, known as Pesedjets. The Greek term Ennead, denoting a group of nine, was coined by Greeks exploring Egypt, its culture and religion, especially after the conquest by Alexander the Great and during the subsequent rule of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.
Nut, Mut and Tefnut
Nut is a daughter of Shu and Tefnut. Her husband and brother is Geb. She has four children: Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. Her name is translated to mean “sky” and she is considered one of the oldest deities among the Egyptian pantheon, with her origin being found on the creation story of Heliopolis. She was originally the goddess of the nighttime sky, but eventually became referred to as simply the sky goddess. Her headdress was the hieroglyphic of part of her name, a pot, which may also symbolize the uterus. Mostly depicted in nude human form, Nut was also sometimes depicted in the form of a cow whose great body formed the sky and heavens, a sycamore tree, or as a giant sow, suckling many piglets (representing the stars).
Mut was often shown wearing the double crown of Egypt or the vulture headdress of the New Kingdom queens. She wore the vulture crown because of the link between her name and the name for mother in Egyptian – they were both mwt, and the vulture was the hieroglyph for mw. Mut was the Egyptian sky goddess, world mother and the consort of Amun-Ra. She was considered to be the mother of the gods and Queen of the Goddesses. She was depicted as a vulture or with a vulture head-dress and her symbol was the uraeus rearing cobra. Mut “absorbed” the aspects of two earlier goddesses, Wadjet and Nekhbet who together were referred to as the 'Two Ladies' and symbolized the unification of Egypt. She was a member of the Theban triad (Mut, Amun and Khonsu). As Thebes rose to greater prominence in ancient Egypt, Mut absorbed aspects of other goddesses. The practice of creating new gods by combining them with old gods is called 'syncretism', which meant the fusion of religious beliefs. Mut was merged with Mafdet, Wadjet, Bastet, Menhit and Sekhmet, who were all warrior lioness goddesses.
Shu and his twin sister were said by the Book of Dead to have but one soul between them. Tefnut Goddess, Shu's female principle, was usually considered the goddess of mist, the source of moisture in the newly created universe. In the story of creation we saw that the eye of Ra, which Shu and Tefnut Goddess brought with them, played a crucial role, but an additional part of the story says that Nun made for Ra a second eye, an act that made the first eye angry. Ra had to use all his diplomacy to keep both eyes content and, as a result, divided their duties. One eye became responsible for the daylight hours and had considerable power and splendor; the second accepted responsibility for the hours of night and also had splendor but less power. This is one version of the myth of the creation of the sun and moon , and often Tefnut Goddess was associated with the moon, Ra's lunar eye. Tefnut was sometimes presented in the drawings in the shape of a woman wearing the solar disk encircled by a cobra. While it is usually assumed that her disk represented the sun, there was nothing about it that might not also have represented the moon.
Crowns and Headdresses
The ancient Egyptian deities tended to each have a distinctive headdress, which can often be used to tell the gods and goddesses apart. The headdress seems to have been strongly linked to the attributes of the particular deity, giving the Egyptians a visual clue as to the powers of the god or goddess. This, then, lead to the mix up of headdresses when different deities took over the attributes and powers of another deity. To the Egyptians it made sense, they could easily tell what the god was worshipped for, but it makes things difficult to identify deities today. The vulture headrests of Mut was appropriated by almost all the goddesses and the cow horns and sun disc of Hathor were similarly appropriated by most goddesses, in particular by Isis. Hence, identifying a specific goddess must include not only the appearance, but also the hieroglyphs associated with the image above their head which I have included next to their image.
Hathor was pictured as a woman with cow's horns with the sun between them, or as a cow wearing the sun disk between her horns. The horns are her horns, as she was thought to be a bovine goddess, but the solar disk that sits between the horns is her aspect of a solar goddess. Some, though, believe that the horns are yet another symbolism of her celestial role as a goddess. The cult of Hathor predates the historic period, and the roots of devotion to her are therefore difficult to trace, though it may be a development of predynastic cults which venerated fertility, and nature in general, represented by cows. The differentiation of Hathor from Isis is one of the most difficult, particularly in Ptolemaic temples, since Isis had absorbed most of Hathor's attributes by that time.
Isis was shown as a beautiful woman, wearing the hieroglyph of the throne of Egypt on her head. Later on when she took on the aspects of Hathor, she started to be shown wearing her headdress, the cow's horns with the sun disk between them, often combined with the vulture headdress of Mut. She took over many of the positions of the goddesses, and so ended up taking on their headdresses as well, though the hieroglyph and the cow horns, solar disk and vulture headdress combination were the most common. This makes it difficult to distinguish Isis from Hathor, particularly in the Ptolemaic period. She was the daughter of Nut and Geb, sister to Nephthys, wife of her brother Osirus. During the Greek and Roman periods, the cult of Isis spread beyond Egypt to Greece and many Roman cities including Pompeii.
Nephthys or Nebthet was a goddess and a member of the Great Ennead of Heliopolis in Egyptian mythology. She was a daughter of Nut and Geb. Nephthys was typically paired with her sister Isis in funerary rites because of their role as protectors of the mummy and the god Osiris and as the sister-wife of Set. Nephthys is a protective goddess who symbolizes the death experience, just as Isis represented the (re)birth experience. Her son was Anubis, whose father was Osiris. Some myths say that Nephthys intoxicated Osiris and seduced him, thus creating Anubis. Yet others say that she disguised herself as her sister Isis, Osiris' wife, and became pregnant by him. It was Nephthys' affair with Osiris which enraged Seth and was one of his motives for murdering Osiris.
Seshat, Ma'at and Anuket
Seshat Goddess of Writing
Seshat was depicted as a woman with a headdress that was also her hieroglyph, which may represent either a stylised flower or seven (or nine) pointed star on a standard that is beneath a set of down-turned horns or a down turned crescent of the moon. Some believe the crown is a representation of a cannabis leaf, which is mentioned several times in the bible. As reality is based on duality, one could consider Seshat the feminine aspect of Thoth. The Egyptians believed that she invented writing, while Thoth taught writing to mankind. She was known as 'Mistress of the House of Books', indicating that she also took care of Thoth's library of spells and scrolls. She is the patron of libraries and all forms of writing, including census and accounting work. Seshat was the only female that has been found (so far) actually writing. Other women have been found holding a scribe's writing brush and palette – showing that they could read and write, but these women were never shown in the act of writing itself. As goddess of writing, she was seen as a scribe, and record keeper, and her name itself means (she who) scrivens (i.e. she who is a scribe).
Ma'at Goddess of Truth, Justice and Order
Ma'at was shown as a woman with an ostrich feather, the Feather of Ma'at and the symbol of truth, on her head. The tall feather, attached by a headband, is the hieroglyph for truth, order, balance, justice and freedom. Ma'at was the Egyptians' concept of truth, justice, or Right. The Egyptians believed they were only allowed into the afterlife if they had lived according to the rules of ma'at. Ma'at was made into a goddess who appeared in human form with a feather on her head. In papyrus paintings of the Book of the Dead, the scales used in the weighing of the heart were shown with the feather of ma'at, or a statue of the goddess herself, on one side, with the dead soul's heart on the other side. The deceased hoped the magic power of the papyrus would ensure his heart balanced with ma'at, so he would be allowed into the afterlife. By praying and offering to the gods, and by ruling justly, pharaohs made sure that ma'at was maintained throughout Egypt.
Anuket Goddess of the Nile
Anuket was the personification and goddess of the Nile river in the Egyptian mythology in Elephantine, at the start of the Nile's journey through Egypt, and in nearby regions of Nubia. During the New Kingdom, Anuket’s cult at Elephantine included a river procession of the goddess during the first month of Shemu. Inscriptions mention the processional festival of Khnum and Anuket during this time period. Ceremonially, when the Nile started its annual flood, the Festival of Anuket began. People threw coins, gold, jewelry, and precious gifts into the river, in thanks for the life-giving water and returning benefits derived from the wealth provided by her fertility to the goddess.
Serqet the Scorpion Goddess
Serqet (also known as Selqet, Selket, Serket or Selcis) is the goddess of fertility, nature, animals, medicine, magic, and healing venomous stings and bites in Egyptian mythology, originally the deification of the scorpion. Her headdress is a scorpion. I have been stung by a scorpion twice, and I can attest to the need for a goddess to help the pain. As the guard of one of the canopic jars and a protector, Serqet gained a strong association with Isis, Nephthys, and Neith, who also performed similar functions. Eventually, later in Egyptian history that spanned thousands of years and whose pantheon evolved toward a merger of many deities, Serqet began to be identified with Isis, sharing imagery and parentage, until finally, Serqet became said to be merely an aspect of Isis, whose cult had become very dominant.
Vulture Godesses Nekbeht, Mut and Wadjet
The goddess Nekhbet is often represented as a vulture, as a woman with the head of a vulture or as a woman wearing the Atef-crown. Her primary cult centers are located in the ancient cities of Nekheb (Elkab) and Nekhen (Hierakonpolis), situated across each other on both banks of the Nile in the South of Upper-Egypt. Mut (Maut, Mwt) was the mother goddess of Thebes (Waset, in the 4th Nome of Upper Egypt). The ancient Egyptians considered the vulture to be a protecting and nurturing mother, and so their word for mother was also the word for a vulture, “Mwt”. Mut replaced Amun's earlier wife, Amanuet (the invisible goddess) during the middle Kingdom. Mut rose to prominence as the queen of the gods when her husband, Amun, became the foremost national god during the New Kingdom. As a result, Mut was also closely associated with the queen, the mother of the nation. She was particularly popular with the queens of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth dynasties, most notably the Pharaoh Hatshepsut and Nefertari Merytnmut (“Nefertari, Beloved of Mut”) the Chief wife of Ramessess II. By Ptolemaic times however, her influence had waned. The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health. The eye is personified in the goddess Wadjet (also written as Wedjat, or “Udjat”, Uadjet, Wedjoyet, Edjo or Uto). The Eye of Horus is similar to the Eye of Ra, which belongs to a different god, Ra, but represents many of the same concepts. As I have said before, the Ptolemies envisioned the “two ladies” of Egypt to be two salacious nude women, with separate crowns of upper and lower Egypt.
Cat Goddesses, Bastet, Sekhmet and Tefnut
Bastet was worshiped as early as the 2nd Dynasty (2890 BC). As Bast, she was the goddess of warfare in Lower Egypt, the Nile River delta region, before the unification of the cultures of ancient Egypt. Her name is also translated as Baast, Ubaste, and Baset. Bastet was originally a lioness warrior goddess of the sun throughout most of ancient Egyptian history, but later she was changed into the cat goddess which is familiar today. Greeks occupying ancient Egypt toward the end of its civilization changed her into a goddess of the moon. As protector of Lower Egypt, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh, and consequently of the later chief male deity, Ra. Along with the other lioness goddesses, she would occasionally be depicted as the embodiment of the Eye of Ra. She has been depicted as fighting the evil snake named Apep, an enemy of Ra.
In Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet (also spelled Sakhmet, Sekhet, or Sakhet, among other spellings) is a warrior goddess as well as goddess of healing. She is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians. It was said that her breath formed the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare. Her cult was so dominant in the culture that when the first pharaoh of the twelfth dynasty, Amenemhat I, moved the capital of Egypt to Itjtawy, the center for her cult was moved as well. To pacify Sekhmet, festivals were celebrated at the end of battle, so that the destruction would come to an end. During an annual festival held at the beginning of the year, a festival of intoxication, the Egyptians danced and played music to soothe the wildness of the goddess and drank great quantities of wine ritually to imitate the extreme drunkenness that stopped the wrath of the goddess, when she almost destroyed humanity. Sekhmet was essentially indistinguishable from Tefnut since she was an amalgamation of the the warrior lioness Godesses of upper Egypt.
I am going to stop here, there are hundreds more goddesses but these are the main ones. As always, I hope you enjoyed, please leave a comment.
Ancient Egyptian Goddesses: http://www.goddess-guide.com/egyptian-goddesses.html
Ancient Egyptian Goddesses: http://www.shira.net/egypt-goddess.htm
115 Egyptian Gods: http://www.nemo.nu/ibisportal/0egyptintro/1egypt/
Traces of Hathor: http://www.joanannlansberry.com/other/hathor/hathor.html
Cartouche Cards and Meaning: http://www.reiki-seichem.com/cards.html
Veritable Hokum: http://www.veritablehokum.com/comic/the-egyptian-god-family-tree/
Egyptian Cat and Lion Goddesses: https://traveltoeat.com/the-egyptian-lion-and-cat-goddesses-sekhmet-bast-and-mut-british-museum-london/