The Bird Gods of Ancient Egypt

As many of you know the ancient Egyptians  personified many of their major gods as birds.  Why they did is open to considerable debate.  Perhaps it was because birds could fly and thus be in areas unattainable by humans or perhaps maybe they were viewed as being powerful for being able to live in the harsh desert conditions.

Below is a guide to the ‘Bird Gods of Ancient Egypt’, and like anything in Egyptian culture, you can find more information by searching the web or visiting your local library.

Falcon/Hawk:  The Falcon or Hawk is usually associated with the God Horus.  It is believed that the Falcon had special protective powers and is often represented hovering over or protecting a Pharaoh.  The Falcon was also sacred to Montu, the god of war and Sokar the god of the Memphite necropolis.  Qebehsenuef, the son of Horus and the protector of the canopic jar of the intestines was also often represented as a Falcon.

Goose:  Known as the ‘Great Cackler’ when in Goose Form, the Goose was sacred to the god Geb.  Geb often is represented as the ‘earth’ god and he is the father of the goddess Isis who is sometimes referred to as the ‘egg of the Goose’.

Heron:  The heron is interesting in Egyptian mythology.  Some view it as the original Phoenix, a symbol of sun and rebirth.  One practical reason for this, is herons would be likely be plentiful during the rainy season and their nesting season would likely coincide with the spring planting and flooding of the Nile.  The heron is closely linked with Heliopolis (Sun-City).  It is also the Ba (depiction/Soul) of both the gods Ra  and Osiris.

Ibis:  Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom or knowledge was always depicted as having the head of an Ibis.  The Greeks viewed him as similar to the Greek god Hermes.  As Thoth was one of the major Egyptian dieties, the Ibis, like the Falcon was very sacred to the ancient Egyptians.

Ostritch:  Maat, the goddess of truth, justice and the, er, Egyptian way is often depcited as a woman seated with an Ostritch feather headress or sometimes just as the feather.

Vulture:  Sacred to the goddess Nekhbet, the goddess of upper Egypt and also Mut, the ‘mother’ goddess.  The Vulture represents eternal power and protection.  This makes a lot of sense, since Vultures are scavangers by nature, it is no surprise that they had become associated with eternity.  As they eat the flesh of the dead, it can be assumed that they consume the soul of the departed.  When finished the vulture soars off into the sky, carrying the departed soul to heaven.  Because Egyptian dynastic mythology was caught up into immortality (mummies anyone?), the Vulture was very often depcited in association with the many rulers of Egypt.

One response to “The Bird Gods of Ancient Egypt

  1. A friend of mine was praying at church when he looked up and saw a man quite unusual. Being that there was one other person in this church, (a modern-esque catholic church in my downtown area) who also saw this event take place, this story forms no hoax.

    In the back of the church these two men who were praying in the forefront pews, looked up an noticed a peculiar site. A man dressed in brown leather boots extending to the knee, clothed in a emerald green cloak or robe of sorts was just standing there plainly, staring right back into their eyes. He was perched directly to the left of the alter where the consecration (or whatever the catholic terminology is) takes place, you know where they do the bread and the wine, that whole bit. This would have gone more or less unnoticed, except for there was something missing, or rather something there that shouldn’t have been there upon this man, that was there. His head was that of a predator bird, likened to a hawk, or an eagle of sorts. Beady, stringent almost haunting bird like eyes only to follow with an almost blink-less stare and not even a glance later, disappearing as fast as appearing.

    He wouldn’t give me very many details. He only saw this birdman for a brief moment. The most he said to the other praying man was, “I don’t believe me to ask you this, but did you see what I saw, and the other man replied in utmost astonishment, ‘why, yes’. The conversation firmly ended on that note and the two departed ways as if not to toil in ‘crazy talk’.

    I have yet to find out anything that may have come from this. I think the bird-men are real beings. Maybe creations like humans, maybe angels like the seraphim and cheribum. We have yet to find out…

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