Religion in ancient Egypt

The Egyptian pantheon consisted of a wide range of gods and goddesses. Many were represented with the heads of animals and birds - thus, the deity's character reflected these animal associations. The fierceness of the lioness mirrored the destructive nature of Sekhmet. Animals were only worshipped as manifestations of a god.

With the exception of stories about creation, few myths about the gods have survived; some are known only fully from Classical texts. The creator was invariably a sun-god, and the act of creation was sometimes linked with the annual flooding of the Nile valley (the inundation). The renewal of fertility and the regeneration of life were important concepts in Egyptian religion, both for the living and the dead. The daily cycle of the sun was seen as a process of renewal, the passage of the sun through the day representing life on earth, and its regenerative journey through the night representing the afterlife.

Most people only participated in the religious activities at temples during festivals; they were not allowed into the temples in which the king and priests performed daily rituals to maintain the balance of the universe. Instead, ordinary people worshipped chosen gods in household shrines, and made special appeals to them in times of crisis.

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