Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern Terms and Concepts

This is an ever-expanding list of Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern religious terms and concepts. It is by no means a complete “dictionary,” but a modest attempt to shed light on some of the more common and complicated words encountered in Egyptian (Kemetic) and Ancient Near Eastern religions and related texts.

The definitions provided are informed by the academic works listed in the bibliography at the bottom of this page.

ATTENTION : IF YOU QUOTE ANY MATERIAL FROM THIS PAGE, BE SURE TO PROPERLY ATTRIBUTE CREDIT AND LINK BACK TO THIS PAGE.
__________________________________________________________________

Abdju-Fish — A form of Heru which accompanies the Solar Barque, and along with the Djeseru-fish, defends Ra and His Barque from His anti-Cosmic enemies.

Agaru — The Dilmunite (Ancient Bahraini) name for the Western Coast of the Gulf. A region of importance to Ancient Mesopotamian trade from around 2300 BCE onward.

Akh(et) — The successfully transfigured, “effective” spirit of a human soul that has passed all the trials of the Duat. In Kemetic religions, this is the term used to describe an ancestor. Plurally referred to as “akhu.”

Szpakowska states that akhu, upon successful transfiguration after overcoming the trials of the Duat and passing judgment in the Hall of Two Truths, are said to be permitted unrestricted access throughout the many regions of the Duat, as well as free passage to the realm of the living. Usually they manifest as benevolent spirits who serve as aides to the living, but can also return to the land of the living to torment the living, visiting nightmares and other forms of psychological distress upon their victims.

Amulet — (See also Apotropaion)

Pan-Cultural:

An item, usually portable and wearable (such as jewelry), often fashioned in the likeness of symbols associated with/appearances of specific deities and other more-than-human entities. The purpose of an amulet is, generally speaking, to either enhance one’s luck and personal capabilities (for instance: the ability to successfully impregnate a woman in a man’s case, or in a woman’s case, become pregnant and give birth without complication) or protect against malevolent forces.

In Modern practice, wearing images of Gods or protective symbols as a public sign of allegiance to/worship of a particular God, and/or adherence to a specific religion is one of the more common functions of amulets, though many serve apotropaic and “ability-enhancing” purposes.

Egyptian Amulets:

(See also Color Symbolism)

In The Ancient Gods Speak compendium edited by Donald B. Redford, contributing scholar Carol Andrews tells us that three of the four Egyptian words translated as “amulet” come from the verbs “to protect” and “to guard,” confirming that the intended purpose of these objects was not for mere ornamentation, but to provide “magical” protection to the wearer. Another word translated as “amulet” came from an Egyptian term meaning “well-being.” These adornments were essential articles of everyday wear to Ancient Egyptians of all strata of society. Even the living animal avatars of the Gods cared for by specific cults were adorned with them.

Amulets were as equally essential in death as they were in life. Amulets were often wrapped up in the linens used to dress a mummified person’s or deceased animal avatar’s body. As for the poor, who through most of Egyptian history could not afford nor justifiably have access to formal mummification, they were buried in the desert (wherein the preservative process would occur naturally), and objects important to them in life — including amulets — were interred with them. These objects were required for the successful protection of one’s ka, and for successful passage through the Duat upon death. The form and material of specific amulets to be used, the spells to be recited over them/in their making, and the desired result were stipulated by sections of The Book of the Dead, also known as The Book of Going Forth by Day. A diagram of the amulet was shown by an accompanying vignette. Indeed, The Book of Going Forth by Day was/is itself an amulet, since its spells were/are aimed at protecting the deceased and ensuring their successful transfiguration in the Afterlife.

The color and material of an amulet, in addition to the symbol/God being represented by it, indicates its particular significance and purpose. For example, green turquoise and feldspar represented the life-giving properties of the Nile. Gold — a rare, highly-prized and culturally significant material — embodied the powers and protections of the all-important sun. Silver embodied the properties associated with the moon. Red carnelian represented protective and solar energies, among other properties.

Mesopotamian Amulets:

Neither Sumerian nor Akkadian language possesses a word for “amulet.” However, it is apparent that various objects were used as amulets, such as cylinder seals depicting mythological scenes and small clay figurines (including but not limited to creatures such as the carp-goat often associated with the God Ea) buried beneath the thresholds of houses to ward off evil and attract luck. Likewise, objects that seem to have served amuletic purposes have been found at burial sites — both those belonging to the wealthy and those entombed with the not-so-wealthy.

Jeremy Black and Anthony Green state that Neo-Assyrian Kings wore a necklace with small metal amulets representing symbols of the Gods. During the same period, Pazuzu amulets were popular among women, as ritually- and medically-prescribed protection against the child-killing demon Lamaštu during pregnancy and childbirth — a very vulnerable time in a woman’s life in Ancient times. (Medicine and magic/ritual were not considered separate disciplines in Ancient Mesopotamia, or indeed anywhere else throughout the Ancient World.)

Ankh — In Egyptian iconography, this is a symbol of life, and means precisely what it represents. It is often carried by the Gods, in addition to the wās scepter, to demonstrate the Gods’ life-giving, creative powers.

Calvin W. Schwabe, Joyce Adams, and Carlton T. Hodge assert that the ankh is a stylized bull vertebra. In Ancient Egyptian belief, the masculine essence was the only truly creative essence. This masculine essence was best embodied by animals with aggressive sexual proclivities, such as the ram and the bull. Most Gods are to some effect in possession of bull-epithets. Likewise, sperm was one of the most potent forces of life and creation, and was thought to be produced in the thoracic spine. The shape of the vertebra of a bull more closely resembles the ankh than a sandal strap, the latter having been put forth as a candidate by other parties.

ApepThe embodiment of isfet, and chief enemy of all the Gods and Their Ordered Creation. The Uncreated non-being is represented in Egyptian iconography as a massive serpent being attacked, stabbed, clubbed, and speared by the Gods, Their avatars, and Their servants.

Modern Kemetics often write the non-entity’s name with a line struck through it, or another means of division. This is to symbolically destroy the non-entity, which never truly dies. The destruction of Apep requires ritual repetition. Many ancient ritual texts feature multiple spells designed to destroy or keep it at bay.

It may come as a surprise to most Kemetics that Apep has a Divine form. This Divine form is mentioned in the texts of Hebet Temple in the Kharga Oasis, dating to the 550s BCE. It is at one point even “hailed.” This Divine form, according to Egyptologist David Klotz, is called Wenti. Wenti takes the form of a crocodile that swallows and later regurgitates the sun, thus playing a somewhat positive and necessary role in the solar and greater cosmic cycles.

“Heru-Wenti” is also a name of Heru the Harpooner, and does not seem to be a syncretism between Heru and Apep’s God-form Wenti.

Rundle-Clark speculates that Apep may be a discarded pre-Creation Divine form of the monad Atum, or perhaps of Amun. Once Creation had been engendered, the serpent-form was no longer needed. The discarded form, this “Atum-serpent,” grew jealous and vengeful, and sought to unmake the Creator and His works.

Egyptologist and authority on Egyptian Demonology Kasia Szpakowska mentions that toward the end of Papyrus Chester Beatty VI, vs 2,5-9, Apep is invoked/”used” in a spell as a weapon against demons, malevolent spirits of the dead, or other “enemies” from killing the victim of possession.

While it has been asserted in the past that the serpent which represents Apep can in some way be tied to all serpent-entities (though this author sincerely questions that conclusion), it is not to be confused with such “Cosmic Serpents” as Sito or Nehebkau, nor the Sun God’s protector-uraeus-deity Mehen.

Apotropaion — From the Greek word apotrepein, “to ward off.” Deities and other more-than-human entities among Whose chief roles and concerns is to protect (humans) against malevolent forces are referred to as “apotropaions” or more accurately “apotropaia.”

Similarly, any symbol, sign, or amulet designed to ward off evil is also called an apotropaion.

Rituals and magic (or in the Egyptian case, heka) designed to ward off evil is called “apotropaic.” Priests and other officiants, “official” or “unofficial,” who conduct such rituals and magic (or in the Egyptian case, heka) are not referred to as “apotropaions.”

Apsû — Also referred to as “Abzu.” The subterranean freshwater “ocean” that serves as the home for the God Ea (Sumerian: Enki) and His wife Damkina (Sumerian: Damgalnuna). In the “Enûma Eliš,” Ea slays the progenitor of the Gods, also called Apsû, Who was the lover of Tiamat and the embodiment of freshwater — Tiamat and Apsû were primordial Creators Who existed before Creation, but had to be (and were) killed by Their offspring in order for Creation to come into being.

Upon slaying Apsû, Ea made the freshwater “ocean” under the Earth’s surface (since fresh water was believed by Ancient Mesopotamian peoples to originate from beneath the Earth) out of Apsû’s corpse. This act prompted Tiamat to go to war with Her offspring, though in the end She too was killed, along with Her army of monsters and second consort, the God Qingu.

Asag/Asakku — Asag is a Sumerian demon born of the union of the Gods An and Ki. Asag mated with the kur to produce rock-demon offspring: His stone-allies by whom he was always accompanied. He was so incredibly hideous that he “caused fish to boil alive in the rivers.” In the Sumerian epic poem “Lugal-e ud me-lám-bi nir-ğál,” the God Ninurta fells this great demon.

In an Akkadian version of this myth, seven Asakku who are the offspring of Anu are defeated by the God Ninurta. In other versions, the Storm God Adad takes the place of Ninurta.

The scene of Asag’s defeat by Ninurta was frequently and grandly depicted in Mesopotamian art — most notably at the Temple of Ninurta at Kalhu (Nimrud), commissioned by King Ashurnasirpal II. Asag is shown as a lion-dragon, and Ninurta as a humanlike being with four wings, pursuing the demon with lightning bolts. This image of Asag is often mistakenly passed off as Tiamat.

In Mesopotamian magical theory, the Asag (Akkadian: Asakku) is a demon that attacks and kills human beings, particularly via brain fever. They are mentioned in poetical enumerations of diseases, and asakku-disease is listed as a consequence of sin or the violation of taboos.

Āšipu — An Akkadian term for Mesopotamian magician-exorcists. These specialists performed their duties and interpreted symptoms of those afflicted by malevolent forces in accordance with the written text of the SA.GIG. The nature and cause of the symptoms would be determined through observation and medical divination. By means of the discerned signs of affliction, the Āšipu could determine the cause or entity responsible for the patient’s suffering. These specialists would then exorcise these forces — whether God (generic or specific), ghost, demon, or  — through incantation and ritual magic as prescribed by the SA.GIG manual.

Asû — (See also Apotropaion) An Akkadian term for Mesopotamian physician-priests who specialized in medical pharmacopaeia and apotropaia.

Atef — Similar to the Hedjet crown; a tall, rounded white crown flanked with two ostrich feathers set upon spiraling Ovis longipes ram horns, sometimes featuring solar discs and uraei. Also referred to as the “Panoply of the Universal Lord,” a symbol of the overwhelming power and authority of the Sun God. Worn by many Gods in different “iconographic situations,” most notably Osiris.

Ba (pl. Bau) — One of the major components of an individual and their soul. It is the personification of the impression that an individual makes on the world around them, and their effect on others — in other words, a being’s reputation and that being’s ability to enhance his image in the eyes of both men and Gods. The ba is non-physical, and a property of only human beings and Gods. However, as James P. Allen informs us in his article for The Ancient Gods Speak, the word “bau” could sometimes be used in relation to objects considered inanimate, as is the case with the “threshing-floor of barley” in the Instructions of Amenemope which is said to be “of greater bau” (that is, has a greater effect) than an oath sworn by the throne. What can be categorized as demons (in the Greek sense of the term), geniuses (“genii” in the Roman sense), and Uncreated non-beings do not possess a ba. Any phenomenon in which the presence or action of a God could be detected could be viewed as the ba of that deity. In both Gods and human beings, it can be viewed as a separate mode of existence of its owner — even before passing into the Duat, as is the case with human beings.

Ba’al — Alternatively “Baal”; “Ba’l.” West Semitic term meaning “Lord.” By its true definition, it does not refer to any God specifically. However, when “Ba’al” appears in various translated texts all by itself, it most often refers to the Canaanite Storm God Ba’al-Hadad (Ba’l-Haddu).

Bakhu — In Egyptian religion, this is the Eastern mountain where the sun rises. The God Sobek’s “Carnelian Temple” is said to be located here, hence His epithet “Lord of Bakhu” or “Lord of the Mount of Sunrise.”

Bârû — An Akkadian term meaning “examiners,” referring to Mesopotamian diviner-haruspices. In Antiquity, they were specialists in deductive divination who scrutinized divinatory messages through the examination of abnormalities in animal viscera, specifically livers and intestines, in order to decipher Divine cryptograms contained within. As opposed to oracles, who often deliver Divine messages through deity-possession or direct communication with the Gods Themselves, Bârû read omens through a divining method known as exstispicy. These diviners interpreted the anomalies of the organs in accordance with the extispicy series known as Bârûtu.

Bēl — An alternate title for the Babylonian God Marduk, meaning “Lord.” Alternate form of West Semitic “Ba’al.”

Black Land — See also Color Symbolism; Kemet/Kemetic.

Bull of Heaven — A mythical beast demanded by Ištar (Sumerian: Inanna) of Her father Anu (Sumerian: An). She used this mighty beast to raze the city of Uruk when Her amorous advances were scurrilously rejected by the Hero Gilgameš. The bull wrought chaos and destruction until it was slain by the Hero and his companion, Enkidu. To add insult to Ištar’s injury, Gilgameš presented the dead beast’s horns to his personal God, Lugalbanda. As a punitive act of revenge for this deliberate display of disrespect, Ištar caused Gilgameš’ companion Enkidu to die, and the Hero fell into inconsolable despair.

The story is told in both the Sumerian poem “Gilgameš and the Bull of Heaven” and in the sixth tablet of the Babylonian “Epic of Gilgameš.”

The Bull of Heaven also refers to a constellation recognized by Ancient Mesopotamians, which corresponds to our Modern constellation of Taurus.

Canopic Deities — Gods involved almost exclusively in Egyptian funerary religion. These deities correspond to and protect the four basic organs that need to be removed during the mummification process to prevent the putrification of the corpse, but are still needed by the deceased in the Afterlife. These deities are more popularly referred to as the “Four Sons of Heru,” each of Whom is in turn protected by a specific Goddess: Imetsy (human-headed guardian of the liver, protected by the Goddess Aset); Hapi (ape-headed guardian of the lungs, protected by Nebet-het); Duamutef (jackal-headed guardian of the stomach; protected by the Goddess Neith); and Qebesenuef (falcon-headed guardian of the intestines, protected by Serqet).

According to Jennifer Irytsabu, only Duamutef enjoyed a formal cult in historical Ancient Egyptian religion.

Carp-Goat — The half-goat, half-fish symbol of the God Ea (Sumerian: Enki). In Akkadian, this creature is called the suhurmašû. While the God Ea is represented by this creature iconographically, namely on kudurru stones, the God does not ever take this form.

Children of Disorder — (See also Epagomenal Days) This refers to the five children of the Egyptian Goddess Nut: Wesir (Osiris), Heru-Wer (Horus the Elder), Set, Aset (Isis), and Nebet-Het (Nephthys). Meeks tells us, in short, that Ra had forbidden Nut to give birth to Her children, for She either had sexual congress with Her husband despite Their mandatory separation by Shu while the Gods had Their backs proverbially turned, or because Shu had been responsible for impregnating Her. Additionally, Ra knew that these Gods, if allowed to be brought into His ideal Creation, would cause much upset and turmoil, as evidenced by these five Gods’ later conflicts in myth.

The God Djehuty, moved by Nut’s suffering, played a game of dice with the Moon God, and won five extra days on the 360-day calendar, so that She might give birth and be relieved of Her pain. This period of time translates to the “New Moon” lunar phase, when the moon is not visible. Meeks also tells us that Djehuty uses this periodical darkness to engage in mischief of His own.

The God Set is usually and disproportionately burdened with the onus of “God of Disorder and Conflict,” but His siblings were equally involved in all manner of disorder and conflict: not only with each other, but with other Gods. Indeed, the Goddess Aset, as per a popular myth known as “Aset and the Sun God’s Secret Name,” through trickery and the toxins of a venomous creature of Her making whose wounds only She could heal, conned Ra out of His secret name — a God’s true name being the key to having control over Him. There is another myth mentioned in the Book of the Dead which tells of Wesir’s (Osiris’) hubristic attempt to humiliate His brother Set.

Children of Impotence — Contemptuous epithet in Egyptian religion for evil spirits.

Color Symbolism — Egyptian iconography was, and is, “color-coded.” Specific colors and materials denote specific Divine powers and attributes.

Realistic, “true-to-life” coloring was not always employed in Egyptian iconography. The symbolic value of the color is what is most important.

The God Amun, for instance, is often painted blue. Blue represents the sky; the primordial; the unknown; the royal. To paint Amun blue (particularly during the New Kingdom Period, post-Amarna Period) was to show that Amun is an enigmatic, “invisible,” primordial God, Highest of the High, much involved with the mysteries of the Heavens and of Creation. Gods like Min and Yinepu (Anubis), Who are often painted pitch-black, were rendered so to demonstrate those Gods’ association with fertility and rebirth, since black is the color of the life-giving silt of the Nile. Furthermore, because They are ultimately numinous beings Whose truest forms are unknown to us, the Gods do not literally possess “skin color.”

The Basic Colors:

Green — Wadj. A pigment used from Prehistory. Associated with the Nile, the Mediterranean Sea, and vegetation. Represents fertility and rebirth. This color is strongly associated with the Gods Osiris, Ptah, and Wadj-Wer, though not limited to Them.

Red — Dešr. A pigment from Prehistory. It tends to include the colors yellow and orange. Associated with the desert, blood, war, fire, and the sun. Represents life-giving properties, protection, aggression, etc. This color is strongly associated with the Gods Set, Ra, Aset, and Sekhmet, though not limited to Them.

Black — Kem. A pigment used since Prehistory. Associated with the dark silt of the Nile Valley (hence Kemet, “Black Land”), darkness (absence of light, not evil), and the Underworld. Represents fertility and rebirth, as well as the primordial state. This color is strongly associated with the Gods Min, Yinepu (Anubis), and Osiris, though not limited to Them.

White — Hedj. Like the aforementioned colors, it was a pigment that had been used since Prehistory. Associated with light (of the sun and moon; silver is also described as “white”) and purity. This was the color of the clothing of ritual specialists, and of white calcite stone (limestone) used in temple architecture.

Blue — Khesbedj. Unlike the previous colors listed, there was/is no Old Egyptian term for this color specifically. Indeed, blue pigment had not been discovered until around 2550 BCE. This blue pigment was produced by grinding lapis lazuli stone (khesbedj, for which the color was later named) into a fine powder. Blue was thus not part of the original system of color symbolism, though it would grow to become the most prestigious paint color — largely because it was, initially, quite rare and expensive to produce. This rich blue color is associated with the night sky — “The Vault of the Heavens” — and the primordial waters. It represents royalty, mysteriousness, ethereal qualities, and rebirth. As mentioned previously, this color is strongly associated with the God Amun, as well as the Goddess Nut, though not limited to Them.

Creation/Created — All things and beings and concepts subordinate to, and part and parcel of, existence. The Sun God Ra is most popularly viewed as Prime Mover in Modern Kemetic religions, and thus what is deemed “Creation” or “Created” is viewed as being willed into existence by Ra (or another Prime Mover, such as Nit [Neith], Sobek, Djehuty [Thoth], Atum, et al.). All things that “are” belong to Creation. That which “is not” belongs to Uncreation, or non-existence, or the “raw” and irrational Universe that has existed, and will always exist, independent of Creation. Creation and all Created things will eventually return and re-integrate into Uncreation, according to generalized Egyptian Theology.

Crook and Flail — Egyptian symbols of royal dominion and authority. Wesir (Osiris) is often shown bearing these in His hands.

Cubit — A unit of measurement that appears in various Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern texts. Measures 20.6 inches/52.3 centimeters.

Deshret — This term can refer to the Red Land, or desert, or the red crown of Lower (Northern) Egypt.

Dilmun — Ancient Mesopotamian name for the island of Bahrain and an area of the Western Coast of the Gulf (Agaru). Dilmun may have also possibly included the Failaka and other islands in the vicinity. This region became increasingly important to Mesopotamian trade from about 2300 BCE on. A good deal of diffusion occurred between these cultures, and their Gods were mutually recognized, even adopted.

Djed — “Stability.” A pillar-symbol of strength and resurrection. This symbol is usually associated with Wesir (Osiris), especially during later periods of Egyptian history, though not exclusive to Him. The Gods Tatenen, Ptah, Banebdjedet, and Sokar are among the Gods associated with this symbol. It is thought to be a stylized sheaf of corn, or bundle of reeds.

Jeremy Black and Anthony Green note that the djed, along with the ankh, was adopted into Mesopotamian art as a decorative motif, but only for decorative purposes. It retained none of its Egyptian religious significance for Mesopotamians.

Djeseru-Fish — The red fish which swims ahead of the Solar Barque with the Abdju-fish, protecting Ra and His entourage from enemies. Egyptologist David Klotz makes a point of saying that, while Set was associated with specific fish at the Dakhleh Oasis not far from Hebet Temple at the Kharga Oasis, and while Set fends off enemies from the Solar Barque, this red fish — mentioned in both the Book of the Dead and within the Hebet Temple texts — does not represent the God Set.

Dua — Upright pose of worship; outstretched and upraised arms with palms facing outward. In written language, it is a hieroglyph depicting a man in this posture, used as a determinative in such words as: iau, “praise;” dua, “adore;” suash, “extol;” and ter, “to show respect.”

“Dua” is an exclamation used frequently by Modern Kemetic practitioners, especially when giving thanks to a God.

Duat — The “Unseen World,” often referred to as the Underworld, Hereafter, and Afterlife by traditional scholars. It is not akin to the concepts of Sheol or Hell. While there are many realms within the expanse of the Duat that are considered dangerous, or places of punishment, these realms are not representative of the whole. It is more comparable to Hades in Hellenic religion, which contains paradisaical realms as well as regions of despair.

Ennead — The nine Gods worshiped in Iunu/On (Heliopolis): Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Wesir (Osiris), Heru-Wer (Horus the Elder), Set, Aset (Isis), and Nebet-Het (Nephthys). These were the Gods of one of the three dominant theologies of the Old Kingdom Period (the others were of Khmun/Hermopolis, and Men-nefer/Memphis).

Epagomenal Days — (See also Children of Disorder; Wep-Ronpet) The five days at the end of Ra’s formerly perfect 360-day year, which the God Djehuty won from the Moon God in a game of dice, so that the Goddess Nut could give birth to Her children, after Ra had forbidden it. Each of the five days was dedicated to the birth of Osiris, Heru-Wer (“Horus the Elder/Great,” not to be confused with Aset’s son Heru-sa-Aset), Set, Aset, and Nebet-het.

This myth was used to explain religiously the reason for the imperfection of the calendrical division of the astronomical year.

In terms of Egyptian religious festivals of significance, the Epagomenal days preceded the celebration of the New Year, called Wep-Ronpet.

Epithet — A byname, “nickname,” or descriptive phrase used to identify the various, specific qualities and roles of a given deity.

Fetish — (See also Imywt Fetish; Ta-Wer) From Latin facticius (“artificial”) and facere (“to make”). This term refers to religious objects or symbols associated with and/or representative of specific deities or more-than-human entities.

Field of Reeds/Offerings — In Egyptian religion, this is the Paradise and land of eternal plenty all dead hope to successfully pass into.

Ğiš-hur — Akkadian term meaning “plans; designs.” It is pronounced ” ‘ng-ish-hoor,” with the “ng” making the same sound as in the word “reading.”

Related to the Akkadian concept of parṣū (Sumerian: mē), this concept dictates how the activities central to human life and civilization should be. These plans and designs are created by the Gods, and are made manifest realities by Their parṣū.

Heb-Sed Festival — The Egyptian royal jubilee festival. It was celebrated by a King upon his thirtieth year of rule, and then repeated every three years thereafter. It is a ritual reenactment of the reunification of Upper (Southern) and Lower (Northern) Egypt.

Hedjet — The tall white crown of Upper (Southern) Egypt.

Heka — “Art of the Mouth” or “Meaningful Speech.” There is no historical Kemetic term that would translate to “magic.” The Ancient Egyptians had no concept of what we and other cultures of the Ancient World (such as that of Classical Hellas, Rome, and many of the cultures of Mesopotamia had) refer to as “witchcraft,” thus heka cannot and should not be compared to it in any context. Despite its meaning, heka is not limited to the written and/or spoken word, though those are considered to be the most potent articulations.

Heka is a particular kind of power that is inherent in all Created beings and things. This power is not a universal spirit or Supreme Being. Rather, it is a force all beings, Divine and mortal alike, can tap into and use to influence the world around them — though it is arguable that the Divine have a more comprehensive, potent understanding and ability to effectively wield heka than any human can.

Heka can be articulated to garner protection and healing for us, or to help us gain confidence, and to purge us of negative, “heart-eating” feelings. Heka in practical application is very much about the psycho-emotional. It is very much about orienting ourselves into a proper frame of mind to accomplish our goals.

Heka is neither good nor evil; it is itself independent of morality. It is a tool, and like any tool, can be used constructively or destructively. Created beings, however, are not independent of morality, nor unaffected by good and evil, whatever and however those ethical standards may be defined. Being in possession of conscience, knowledge, and free will, Created beings are entirely responsible for what they use their tools for, and how their actions impact ma’at. Vengeance and violence, in which heka is often employed, are not antithetical to ma’at, and are often employed to enforce and secure ma’at. However, they must be employed wisely and correctly, in full understanding. Vengeance and violence for vengeance and violence’s sake serve only to embolden the presence and strength of isfet in the Created Uni/Multiverse, which ultimately does not serve us.

Hekau — A proficient of heka. There is no historical Kemetic term that would translate to “magician,” but the function of a hekau is analogous to that of a magician or priest who performs exorcisms and similar rites and services for their community.

Henu — The “praise” or “glorification” or “jubilation” gesture. This is one of the postures assumed when adoring the Gods. Iconographically, figures are shown kneeling on one knee, with one fist pressed to the chest, and one fist raised at an angle.

Horned Cap — A conical helm bearing up to seven pairs of horns. This cap is a symbol of Divinity in Mesopotamian religions. It is worn by Gods and sometimes Kings in Mesopotamian iconography.

Ilu (m., pl. ilānu or ilāni) — One of the Akkadian terms for “God(s).”

Imperishable Stars (Ikhemw-sek) — (See also Unwearying Stars [Ikhemw-wredj]) Egyptian. This term refers to the Northern circumpolar stars/constellations, which never “set” below the horizon.

Imywt Fetish — A headless bull skin fastened to a pole by the end of its tail; the tail terminates in a papyrus blossom. Associated with the God Osiris and/or the God Yinepu (Anubis). For further information, please read Jennifer Irytsabu’s article on the Imywt fetish here.

Inet-Fish — In Egyptian religion, a fish-symbol representing fertility and rebirth.

Irkalla — One of the Akkadian words that refers to the Underworld.

Iru — The articulate and identifiable manifestations of a deity’s kheperu. For instance, Khepri, Ra, Atum, and Auf are all iru of the Sun God. Each iru defines a particular set of characteristics and/or roles a God wishes to convey at any given moment for specific purposes. Each iru possesses definitive qualities that make it recognizable to other beings. These are represented in Egyptian iconography by specific colors, symbols, animal forms, crowns/headdresses, epithets, and similar qualifiers.

Isfet — A concept that embodies the negative aspects of the Uncreated, and is the antithesis to Ordered Creation and Created life. It is the opposite and enemy of ma’at. Isfet is pure and total entropy, and is the driving force behind wanton destruction and purposeless disorder which undermine the Ordered Creation of the Gods. Isfet was viewed by the Ancient Egyptians as the default state of existence; ma’at — Cosmic equilibrium, an unnatural state despite being “of the Gods” — had/has to be constantly re-asserted over it in order to preserve and perpetuate Creation.

Ištaru (f. s.; pl. ištarātu and ištarānu) — One of the Akkadian terms for “Goddess(es).”

Ka — The ka is an immensely diverse and complicated concept. The ka, in the general sense, is part and parcel of the concept of the soul, which is comprised of multiple components. The different types, or subsets, of ka are many: the internal ka, the external ka, the royal ka, the human ka, and the ka of a God.

The internal ka, in conjunction with the ba, governs an individual’s character, nature, temperament, and disposition. It deals with the intangible aspects of an individual.

The external ka in Predynastic times was associated with the placenta and umbilical cord, but such conceptions fell by the wayside in favor of more complex ideas as Egyptian culture evolved and flourished. The external (human) ka is the “double” of an individual. With the exception of the royal ka, the external (human) ka is never represented as a separate being from its owner, as any iconographic representation of the ka was/is the ka itself. Portraits of private individuals were not produced, but rather of their ka, which is eternally youthful, the ideal essence of those private individuals.

The royal ka is related to what is referred to as “The Living Heru (Horus)” and the kingly person. Private individuals do not possess this ka form. The royal ka is depicted separate from the Pharaoh, yet accompanying him, either as a personified ka sign or as a human-like reflection of the king with the ka hieroglyph on its head, to demonstrate its dual nature. The serekh, or royal name, which is shown surmounted by a falcon, and sculpture depicting the king being enveloped by a falcon’s wings, are also representative of the ka in that it demonstrates the presence of the Sky God Heru in the king. In this respect, the king acts as the living ka of Heru, combining mortal and Divine components in one being.

Kalû — An Akkadian term for Mesopotamian “lamentation priest-chanters.”

Kemet/Kemetic — From Middle Egyptian shorthand “kmt.” It translates to “Black Land,” and refers specifically to the fertile Delta region of Lower (Northern) Egypt, so named for its black silt deposits at the mouth of the sacred Nile River. It also refers to the unified State of Upper and Lower Egypt. From this term Kemetic is derived, and refers to various Revivalist religions that focus on historical Ancient Egyptian Gods and Theology.

Kheperu — Literally, “becomings.” In Egyptian religion, kheperu are the numinous inarticulate forms, attributes, concepts, identities, and components of identities of individual Gods, limitless in number, than any individual God is capable of “bringing into being.” The definitive, articulate, sometimes tangible manifestations of these kheperu that can be recognized and understood by other beings, mortal and non-mortal, are referred to as iru.

Ki — Sumerian word for “earth,” sometimes embodied by a Goddess of the same name, shown as a counterpart to the God An (Akkadian: Anu). Black and Green state that in some Sumerian accounts, Ki and An copulate to produce a variety of plants.

Kudurru — Kudurrus are large polished stones, usually found in temples, that serve as standing records for royal grants. It is supposed that these stones represent replicas of “boundary stones” used to mark property lines. Jeremy Black and Anthony Green tell us that these stones have only been found in the Southern regions of Ancient Mesopotamia, and while the Assyrians in the North did not adopt this custom, no kudurrus date to any point in timeafter the disintegration of Assyria. They were perhaps introduced during the Kassite Period, and were used from that time until the Neo-Babylonian Period (7th century BCE).

Kudurrus are not just important civil and historical records. They are also valuable in their relation to the religion(s) of Ancient Mesopotamia. They are often labeled with the names and/or symbols of the Gods, aiding in their identification. The positioning of various symbols might indicate a particular hierarchy of deities, demonstrating shifts in religious belief throughout various time periods and regions. Some symbols may also represent constellations.

Kur — (See also Irkalla; Ki) Sumerian word meaning “mountain(s)” (specifically in reference to the Zagros Mountains to the East of Mesopotamia), “foreign lands,” and also “earth” (a cognate of Ki). It also refers to the Underworld, making up part of the name-phrase Kur-nu-gi-a, “the Land of No Return.”

Lamassu — Female anthropomorphic beings who accompany people; a kind of “guardian spirit.” More popularly used to refer to the male human-headed winged bull or lion figures found throughout Ancient Mesopotamia — and later, Persia — also known as šedu.

Ma’at — There is no easy nor concise definition for the concept of ma’at. In English language and Western conceptions, it roughly translates to “truth,” “justice,” and “order.” In more elaborate, precise terms, ma’at is the necessary equilibrium and law of Ordered Creation. Ma’at arose out of the conflict between Created and Uncreated forces, which are constantly at odds with one-another by their very nature. The Ancient Egyptian concept of ma’at is often viewed in Modern terms as being the apex and ideal of moral objectivity.

The concept of ma’at historically embodied Pharaonic authority and dominion, the management and unity of the Egyptian State/Empire, Pharaonic law, Divine law, all of the aforesaid’s enforcement,  the subjugation of foreigners and enemies of the Egyptian State/Empire, the maintenance of religious cults and sustained offerings to the Gods, and all other things necessary to the continued existence of Creation.

The concept of ma’at is personified by the Goddess Ma’at, Whose primary symbol is the ostrich feather. The symbol of the feather of ma’at is one of Divine judicial status. This symbol, when grasped in the hand of a deity in Egyptian iconography, denotes that that God plays a role as Judge and “Lord/Lady of Ma’at.”

In the Hall of Two Truths, where the hearts of aspiring mortal souls are judged by the council of Gods, the hearts are symbolically weighed on a scale against the feather of ma’at. The outcome of this trial determines whether or not the aspiring souls have lived just lives in accordance with the Gods. However, it was/is entirely possible to “cheat” the scale with various spells — among the other trials faced in the journey through the Duat — and Egyptian ethics and morality were not and are not the same as Modern, Western, Post-Christian ones.

Manu — In Egyptian religion, this is the Western mountain where the sun sets.

Mastaba — (See also Mound of Creation; Ta-Wer) Mastabas are an early style of Egyptian trapezoidal funerary monument/tomb. These are meant to represent the primordial Mound of Creation which appeared just before the beginning of ordered time and Creation. Egyptian funerary religion places a great deal of emphasis on the acts/forces of creation, renewal, and rebirth, with which this Mound of Creation is associated.

Melammu — An Akkadian term for earlier Sumerian “melam.” This word describes the brilliant, sometimes paralyzing glamour exuded by Gods, heroes, demons, giants (such as Ḫumbaba), and sometimes great Kings. Temples much effected by a God’s presence, and therefore being of great holiness, also give off this scintillating, imposing aura. It is sometimes referred to as an “Aura of Terror.” When experienced by mortals, there is a creeping, shivering sensation observed in one’s flesh, as well as pangs of anxiety bordering on despair.

In the “Epic of Gilgameš,” Gilgameš fearfully utters that a God or ghost must have passed close to himself and his companion Enkidu, reporting that he felt his skin crawl and an overwhelming sense of fear.

Words which refer to the effects Divine presence has on mortals are ni and puluhtu (fear).

A God or another entity bearing such an aura may “take off” His melammu, as He might a crown. When a God or similarly melammu-bearing entity is slain, His melammu disappears.

Mound of Creation — (See also MastabaTa-Wer) In Egyptian religion, this is the mythological plot of earth that first arose from the primaeval waters of Nun. It is called Ta-Wer, or “Eldest Land,” in the Egyptian language.

In the Pyramid Texts (600), the Creator — in this case, Atum — is said to have arisen from the Nun, self-created, upon a mound of earth. This mimics the natural inundation cycle of the Nile which, when its flood-waters recede, leave piles of black silt in their wake. From here, Atum began creating all other things and beings.

Atum is not the only primordial deity. Other primordial deities of local importance, such as Tatenen and Herishef, are also associated with this imagery of the “Mound of Creation.”

Muuet — A type of formerly-human, malevolent “hollow demon.” Also referred to as “unjustified dead.” A shadow of its former self, it is the result of an unsuccessful attempt at transfiguration in the Hereafter, and/or improper burial. While it was human in mortal life, unlike an Akh, it cannot be considered an ancestor.

Naref — An important location near Henen-nesu (Herakleopolis Magna) associated with the God Osiris.

Natron — A natural compound of sodium carbinate and bicarbinate, found as crystals at the edges of certain lakes. This salt was and still is held to be a sacred and vital component of purification rituals in Egyptian religion.

Nemes — The (often gold and lapis-lazuli) striped headdress worn by Pharaohs and some Gods. This is the same headdress featured on the timelessly-popular funerary mask of King Tutankhamun.

Net(j)er — From Middle Egyptian shorthand “nTr.” It translates to “God,” which can refer to an individual God, or God as a concept.

Net(j)eret — Feminine plural of Net(j)er. Goddesses.

Net(j)eru — Masculine plural of Net(j)er. Gods. Also refers to all of the Gods and Goddesses collectively.

Nome — One of the 42 administrative and religious districts into which Egypt was divided: 22 in Upper (Southern) Egypt; 20 in Lower (Northern) Egypt.

Nun — (See also Uncreated/Uncreation) The Primaeval Ocean in Egyptian religion; the Abyss. Representative of pre-Creation rather than Uncreation. The Nun contains all possible things and realities; the Nun is potential not realized. It has always existed, currently exists beyond the boundaries of Creation, and will always exist. It is infinite.

Creation ultimately emerged from the Nun, and will at some point rejoin it, until the time comes for Creation to come about again.

Nun is also identified as a God, one Whose primordial qualities garnered Him associations with the inundation of the Nile.

Ogdoad — The eight deities worshiped in Khmun (Hermopolis) during the Old Kingdom Period. They appear as four frog-headed Gods and four serpent-headed Goddesses in complementary male-female pairs, representative of the four hypostatic qualities of pre-Creation: Nun and Naunet (the waters of the Abyss/fluidity); Amun and Amaunet (invisibility; directionlessness); Kuk and Kauket (absolute darkness); Heh and Hauhet (infinity).

In Khmunian theology, these eight deities were said to be the eight souls of the God Djehuty (Thoth), the chief God of Khmun.

Parṣū — Akkadian term for the earlier Sumerian term mē. Parṣū refers to the powers and properties of the Gods which enable a whole host of activities central to civilized human life, namely religion, to be established and function. These powers and properties and the subsequent plans and designs they engender are ancient, enduring, holy, and fundamentally valuable. Parṣū is usually held by Gods such as Anu (An), Ellil (Enlil), or Ea (Enki), but these powers and properties can also be assigned to lesser Gods.

Some of these powers and properties are conceived in very concrete terms, embodied by specific symbols: by the throne of kingship, and/or by a temple drum. Consequently, they are sometimes said to be “carried” or “worn” or “sat upon” by the Gods Who possess them.

Jeremy Black and Anthony Green state that, in times of civil unrest, parṣū may be said to be “dispersed,” “forgotten,” or “gathered together and stood in a corner.”

In the poem “Inanna and Enki” — whose English translation is featured in Diane Wolkstein’s and Samuel Noah Kramer’s Inanna : Queen of Heaven and Earth — Inanna (Akkadian: Ištar) gambles against a rather drunk Enki (Akkadian: Ea), and wins all of His parṣū (mē) from Him.

Per-Neser/Per-Nu — Meaning “House of Flame.” Associated with the Goddess Wadjet, tutelary Goddes of Lower (Northern) Egypt. The shrine-type of Lower (Northern) Egypt; has a rectangular shape, and is always shown from a frontal view. Represented by the Gardiner O 21 glyph.

Per-Wer/Kar — Meaning “Great House.” Associated with the Goddess Nekhbet, tutelary Goddess of Upper (Southern) Egypt. The shrine-type of Upper (Southern) Egypt; has a somewhat “sugarloaf” shape, and is always shown in profile. Represented by the Gardiner O 18 glyph.

Punt — Pronounced “poont.” The Egyptian name for what is now Somalia. Queen Hatshepsut sent an expedition to this land during her reign. It is from Punt that many rare commodities were imported, such as aromatic resins for making incense.

Qingu — (Also spelled “Kingu.”) Tiamat’s second consort, Whom Tiamat created after the death of Her first consort, Apsû. It is recorded in the Enûma Eliš, the Babylonian Epic of Creation, that Tiamat created the evil God Qingu in the hopes of making Him “King.” She gave to Qingu the Tablet of Destinies, and appointed Him general of Her army. Eventually, the God Marduk wrested the Tablet of Destinies from Qingu, and slayed Him. Marduk then slayed Qingu’s Creatrix and consort, Tiamat.

With the aid of Ea, Marduk created mankind from the spilled blood of Qingu.

Red Land — See also Color Symbolism; Deshret.

Rosetjau — Name of the necropolis of Giza or Men-nefer (Memphis); a name which was later used to refer to the Duat in general.

Sea Beings — (See also Tiamat) These represented the undesirable forces of a state of being antithetical to the reigning Gods and Their Order. Most Sea Beings within many Ancient Near Eastern religions share similar attributes and mythic formulae, as the cultures which recognized them overlapped in Antiquity.

The sea was considered by Ancient Near Eastern cultures to be an uncontrollable, inhospitable, and terrifying place of disorder, chaos, and destruction. From the sea come monsters and death. In the Ugaritic tradition, the sea is embodied by the God Yamm. The Storm God Ba’al-Hadad sunders Yamm and His “ally” Mot, along with the horrendous dragon Lotan, which is an evil creature of Yamm’s (if not an aspect of Yamm), an evil creature of the evil sea. The Hurrian God of storm and sky, Tešub, slays the evil sea-dragon Hedammu in like fashion. This is analogous to the myth of the Hittite God in command of the same forces, Tarhun, slaying the evil sea-dragon Illuyankas. The Egyptian God Set, as it is well known, is the eternal slayer of the isfet-serpent Apep, an Abyssal entity which can also be construed as a kind of evil Sea (Non)Being. Set had in large part adopted the mythic cycles of both Ba’al-Hadad and Tešub. Set by proxy thus became the slayer of mighty serpents and evil, violent beings of the sea similar to the aforementioned Ancient Near Eastern Gods’ enemies: Yamm, Mot, Lotan, Hedammu, Illuyankas — representatives of the anti-Cosmic, disordered Abyss which were identified with Apep in the Egyptian mind. Within Egypt, this conflation of Egyptian, Levantine, Mesopotamian, and Anatolian mythic formulae occurred during the Second Intermediate Period and other periods of Egyptian history that saw large influxes of Northwest and West Semitic immigrants.

Sha — Also referred to as the “Set animal” or “Typhonian beast.” This is Set in zoomorphic form. It is a composite mythical creature, featuring the slender body of a hound; a long, skinny forked tail; a long drooping snout; and long ears with blunt, squared tips. It may resemble an extinct animal, but as yet there has been no conclusive evidence determining once and for all what earthly animal this sha was intended to represent, if any.

Šedu — A male anthropomorphic being that accompanies people; a kind of “guardian spirit,” though some instances in ritual texts from various periods and Mesopotamian cultures seem to suggest that such entities are not always benevolent.

Sekhemti — The Egyptian term for the double-crown of Upper and Lower Egypt unified; called the pschent in Greek. It is a fusion of the red Deshret crown of Lower (Northern) Egypt, and the white Hedjet crown of Upper (Southern) Egypt.

Sin — Various words in Sumerian and Akkadian which are translated as sin (offenses against moral and Divine law) are also frequently used to refer to crime (infringement of civil or criminal law), or to societal ills, such as the prevalence of murder or thievery in a country.

Sin was chiefly associated with disease — indeed, comparable to it. Magical rituals existed which were designed to determine the nature of an individual’s sin(s) and which God(s) that individual had angered with those sins, often unwittingly so. Sin could also, like disease, be transmitted by relatives or inherited from parents, or even something as seemingly benign as sitting in the same chair a “tabooed” person had sat in earlier.

A number of mental illnesses, such as the Qāt Ištar (“The Hands of Ištar”), were believed to be the result of sin, namely offenses (intentional or inadvertent) toward a God. In a fit of Divine upset, the specific deity is said to “seize” the patient and drive the patient insane.

However, sin was not incurable. The consequences of sin could be annulled by a God through prayer, and also like disease, could be remedied by herbal ointments, medicinal tonics, and exorcistic rituals.

There was no concept of “original sin,” or the belief that human beings are born inherently sinful and collectively guilty, endemic to Mesopotamian religions. However, Ancient Mesopotamian peoples did believe that human beings were highly prone toward sinning, and this idea was subsequently accompanied by a very strong sense of guilt.

Solar Barque — The boat in which the God Ra and His entourage traverse the sky and the realms of the Duat as part of the solar cycle.

Ta-Mehu — Lower (Northern) Egypt. “Land of the Papyrus.”

Ta-Mery — Alternate name for Egypt. “Beloved Land.”

Ta-Shemau — Upper (Southern) Egypt. “Land of Reeds.”

Ta-Wer — (See also Fetish; Mound of Creation) “Eldest Land.” Also a sign from very early periods of Egyptian History: a mound-shaped object surmounted by two tall plumes (feathers), perhaps representing the Mound of Creation. Richard H. Wilkinson says that Ta-Wer is the name of the Eight Upper (Southern) Egyptian Nome, and lists the Ta-Wer symbol as one of the “fetishes” of the God Osiris.

Tablet of Destinies — Like the symbols associated with parṣū (mē), this tablet is one of the objects whose possession guaranteed the God Ellil (Sumerian: Enlil) His supreme authority over the Gods and all Creation. In the Sumerian poem “Ninurta and the Turtle,” however, it is Enki (Akkadian: Ea) Who holds the Tablet of Destinies. In the “Enûma Eliš,” it is Tiamat Who confers the Tablet of Destinies upon Her consort Qingu before He goes to war with the other Gods.

It is a large (clay) tablet of magical cuneiform writing, impressed with cylinder seals, so as to make it as an unalterable, authoritative document whose declarations none may disobey or overturn with impunity. The tablet invests the holder with the dangerous power to determine the destinies of all the world and everything and everyone in it. Jeremy Black and Anthony Green state that it also serves as a bond linking Heaven and the Underworld.

Taboos (Egyptian) — See also ritual purity.

Taboos (Mesopotamian) — In Mesopotamian religions, taboos were referred to as ni-gig and azag in Sumerian, and ikkibu and asakku in Akkadian. All these terms refer to the idea that a thing, place, position, activity, or particular action is forbidden because it is either sacred to or reserved for a particular God, or reserved for the King — whether in general, or during specific religious events or times of year.

For instance, one should not eat a certain food item on a particular day of the month because it might be the ikkibu of a particular God. Similarly, certain activities or subjects should not be mentioned on a particular occasion or during a specific ritual.

Violations of taboos were referred to using the phrases “to eat the ikkibu,” “to take/steal the asakku,” or “to step on the anzillu.”

(For the demon, see Asag/Asakku)

Tiamat — (See also Sea Beings) In Babylonian Mythology, along with Her consort Apsû, She was one of the first two beings. They both predated Creation and all other Gods. Together, They produced the first few generations of Gods.

Where Apsû embodied freshwater, Tiamat embodied seawater. The root word that makes up Her name, tiamtum, means “sea.” As a Sea Being — a common motif representing the concept of Evil throughout virtually all Ancient Near Eastern and Asiatic (Anatolian) religions — She represented the forces of disorder, chaos, and destruction. All despite Her being Ummu-Hubur, the Mother of All Things.

In the Babylonian Epic of Creation, the “Enûma Eliš”, She is eventually killed by the God Marduk. Marduk cleaves Her corpse, and makes from it Earth, Heaven, rivers, clouds, and other features of Creation.

Țupšarru — Mesopotamian “scribe-diviners” who specialized in astrological and other “unprovoked” omen literature.

Uncreated/Uncreation — (See also Nun) All non-things, non-beings, and concepts relative to the Primaeval Ocean, or the “raw” and irrational Universe that existed before, and will always exist, independent of the Created Uni/Multiverse. It is not necessarily nor wholly evil, though it sometimes is associated with/gives rise to evil or anti-Cosmic (non)beings.

The Uncreated is personified by Nun, the self-aware personification of the Primaeval Ocean, and far less benevolently, Apep. The Waters of Nun are from whence the Creator God willed Himself (or Herself, as some regional myths involving the Goddess Neith go) into being. The Creator God erected Creation in the midst of this Primaeval Ocean, which the Primaeval Ocean and its non-beings view as a violation of the “Perfect State.” It is held throughout regional as well as State theologies that Creation shall return and be re-integrated into the Primaeval Ocean at some point in time, until the time comes for Creation to be made anew.

Where Creation is ma’at and ma’at is Creation, Uncreation is isfet and isfet is Uncreation.

Unwearying Stars (Ikhemw-wredj) — (See also Imperishable Stars [Ikhemw-sek]) Egyptologist Jiro Kondo speculates that the “Unwearying Stars” are so named because, on and about the celestial equator, these stars/constellations “travel” a very long distance after they rise above the Eastern horizon and before they sink below the Western horizon. The Northern circumpolar stars/constellations, on the other hand, do not seem to “travel” much at all.

Uraeus — Plural, “uraei.” These are protective serpent-motifs. Often representative of the Goddess Wadjet or the Sun God’s protector Mehen. They appear on the crowns of Kings and the headdresses of deities. However, not nearly all uraei are meant to portray a specific God or Goddess, but merely the protective aura surrounding a King or God which defends against the forces of isfet.

Wadj-Wer — “Great Green.” Egyptian name for the Mediterranean Sea. Also refers to an Egyptian God of the Mediterranean Sea and the major lagoons of the Nile Delta. He is depicted in a similar fashion to the Nile God Hapy, with pendular breasts and a visibly round, fat stomach. Wadj-Wer’s body is covered in green and white zig-zags corresponding to the Gardiner N 35 glyph, which represents water.

Wās — “Power.” A long scepter or staff carried by the Gods demonstrating Their authority over Creation and Their ability to drive out isfet. The wāsis shaped like the God Set’s head, and the staff terminates in a fork, in imitation of the Set animal or sha’s pronged tail. In Egyptian Religion, Set is the strongest of the Gods, and one of the chief defenders of Ra and Creation against the forces of isfet.

Wep-Ronpet — (See also Epagomenal Days; Zep-Tepi) The Kemetic New Year. The date of the beginning of Wep-Ronpet is determined by the rising and visibility of the star Sirius (Sopdet) just before sunrise. This astronomical event usually occurs on the Western Gregorian calendar between the dates of July 26th and August 14th.

The celebration of the New Year begins with the Epagomenal days, or “five days outside time,” which Djehuty won from the Moon God for Nut, so that She could give birth to Osiris, Heru-Wer, Set, Aset, and Nebet-het.

Wep-Ronpet, like many Egyptian festivals and ritual activities, was meant to re-enact Zep-Tepi, “the First Occasion,” as a renewal of Creation.

Westerners — In Egyptian religion, this term is used to refer to the dead.

Zep-Tepi — “The First Occasion.” This refers to the first sunrise of the first day of Creation, when all Created things were in their purest, most ordered state. All Egyptian State and Temple rituals strive to recreate this event and state of being. The concept of Zep-Tepi is important to all new beginnings, including but not limited to Wep-Ronpet, or the Kemetic New Year.

Zisurrû — Literally translated, “flour which makes a boundary.” In Akkadian apotropaic rituals, a space around a “patient” (one afflicted by sin or possession by a malevolent spirit) is demarcated by a sprinkling of flour. Ritual actions are carried out inside the circle, and magical figurines may be surrounded with a circle of flour. It is said that the power of the circle is such that malevolent spirits cannot enter it. In other rituals, this type of apotropaic boundary is painted in whitewash or darkwash to the left and right of an entryway.

_____________________________________________________________________

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Black, Jeremy, and Anthony Green. Gods, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia. 6th printing. University of Texas Press. Austin : 2006.

Bottéro, Jean. Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia. Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan. University of Chicago Press. Chicago : 2001.

Coogan, Michael D., and Mark S. Smith. Stories From Ancient Canaan. 2nd Ed. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville : 2012.

Faulkner, R. O. The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth By Day. Edited by Eva von Dassow, James Wasserman. Chronicle Books LLC. San Francisco : 2008.

Irytsabu, Jennifer. “Duamutef.” Per Sabu – The House of Jackals. 2011. Web. Date accessed: 3 Mar 2013. <http://www.per-sabu.org/duamutef.html>.

Jackson, Lesley. Thoth – The History of the Ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom. Avalonia Press. Glastonbury : 2011.

Klotz, David. Adoration of the Ram: Five Hymns to Amun-Re from Hibis Temple. Edited by John Coleman Darnell and William Kelly Simpson. Yale Egyptological Seminar. New Haven : 2006.

Kondo, Jiro. “Ancient Egyptian Astronomy.” Innovations Report – Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft. 17 Oct 2008. Web. 22 Jul 2013. <http://www.innovations-report.de/html/berichte/physik_astronomie/ancient_egyptian_astronomy_120456.html&gt;.

Kraemer, Samuel Noah. Sumerian Mythology. University of Pennsylvania Press. Philadelphia : 1998.

Meeks, Dimitri, and Christine Favard-Meeks. English trans., Goshgarian. Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods. Cornell University Press. Ithaca : 1996.

Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Oxford World’s Classics, Revised Edition. Translated by Stephanie Dalley. Oxford University Press. New York : 2009.

Oakes, Lorna, and Lucia Gahlin. Ancient Egypt : An Illustrated Reference to the Myths, Religions, Pyramids, and Temples of the Land of the Pharaohs. Hermes House. London : 2002.

Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Myth – A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. New York : 2004

Pinch, Geraldine. Magic in Ancient Egypt (Revised Ed). University of Texas Press. Austin : 2006.

The Ancient Gods Speak – A Guide to Egyptian Religion. Edited by Donald B. Redford. Oxford University Press, Inc. New York : 2002.

Redford, Donald B. City of the Ram-Man : The Story of Ancient Mendes. Princeton University Press. Princeton : 2010.

Rochberg, Francesca. The Heavenly Writing : Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Ancient Mesopotamian Culture. Cambridge University Press. New York : 2004.

Rundle-Clark, R. T. Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, Ltd. London : 1978.

Schwabe, Calvin W., and Joyce Adams and Carlton T. Hodge. “Egyptian Beliefs about the Bull’s Spine: An Anatomical Origin for Ankh.” The Trustees of Indiana University. Anthropological Linguistics, Vol 24, No 4. Winter 1982, pp. 445-479.

Szpakowska, Kasia. “Demons in Ancient Egypt.” Religion Compass 3/5 (2009): 799–805. Web. http://www.academia.edu/283212/Demons_In_Ancient_Egypt. Date of access: 19 June, 2013.

Te Velde, H. Seth, God of Confusion: A Study of His Role in Egyptian Mythology and Religion. 2nd Ed. English Translation by Mrs. G. E. van Baaren-Pape. Leiden : Brill, 1977. ISBN 90-04-05402-2.

Wilkinson, Richard H. Reading Egyptian Art – A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture. Thames and Hudson Ltd. London : 1992.

Wolkstein, Diane, and Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna : Queen of Heaven and Earth. Harper and Row Publishers, Inc. New York : 1983.

Advertisements

1 thought on “Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern Terms and Concepts”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s