A look into how the animals of ancient Egypt were worshipped during life and then treated after death.







Animals and their religious meanings:

Bulls - were a manifestation of power in Egypt in each period of ancient egypt history - the bulls worshipped were: a'anefer, apis, Buchis and Mnevis bulls.

Rams -a symbol of power and fertility. The ram of Mendes was a divine being, Amun was sometimes depicted as a ram, Khnum also had a close association with rams.

Cats / lions had a close association with many gods , goddesses (Shu, Bastet, Sekhmet and as the body of the sphinx)

Hare (Wenu, Wen-nefer) - an insignia of Re's rising as the sun, resurrective powers of Osiris.

Jackal - usually thought of as the god Anubis (guardian of the dead). The jackal could also be linked with Wepwawet (who was also linked with mortuary rituals at Assiut and Lykonpolis, could sometimes be shown as a wolf and in some regions was identified as Anubis).

Pig (Shai) - form of the god Seth.

Mongoose / Ichneumon (Khaturi) - symbolised Re as the setting sun.

Ass / Donkey (A'a) - sometimes shown in mortuary texts.

Mouse (Penu) - incarnation of Horus.

Baboon - a form of Thoth.

Hippopotamus - manifestation of Seth.

Bat - symbol of fertility (but not worshipped in any form).

Heron (Bennu) - incarnation of the sun, and dwelt in the sacred Persea tree in Heliopolis (called Soul of the gods).

Falcon / hawk - linked with Horus (important cult centres were at Edfu and Hierakonpolis).

Vulture - Nekhebet the guardian of Upper Egypt.

Goose (Khenken-wer) sacred to the gods Geb and Amon.

Ibis - linked with Thoth, found at many shrines.

Ostrich - thought of as sacred (some unbroken eggs were kept in temples).

Turtle - a symbol of harmful deities, represented the enemies of Re.

Crocodile - sacred to Sobek, worshipped at temples in the Fayum and at Kom Ombo.

Cobra (Wadjet), a symbol of royalty, the guardian of Lower Egypt, with a special shrine at Buto. (Snakes were a symbol of new and resurrection, a giant snake (Methen) guarded the sacred boat of Re each night as the god sailed through the Underworld, while Apophis (another serpent / snake) attacked Re each night).

Frogs - fertility and resurrection, members of the Ogdoad at Heliopolis.

Scorpion - helper of Isis, linked with Selkit the scorpion goddess.