Who Is the Egyptian Sky God?
In Ancient Egypt, statues of the gods resided in shrines, churches, and domestic spaces. Priests made offerings in churches, and ordinary people worshiped gods in their domestic spaces as well.
Because the gods were modeled after humans and animals, they required food, drink, and shelter. The Ancient Egyptians took caring for the gods very seriously by offering tributes in the form of:
- anointing of oils and perfumes,
- washing statues.
Making offerings to the gods
Although archaeological evidence shows that worship of mother goddess Nut was minimal, this fact should not detract from the importance given her in the mythology.
Nut (pronounced like newt) would most likely be considered the quintessential goddess of the sky in Egyptian mythology. She is the wife and counterpart to Geb, god of the earth. Stories describe Nut as the physical manifestation of the sky itself. As the stories tell, Nut gives birth to the sun, Re, every morning. In depictions from the New Kingdom period, her body is ornamented with stars. Effigies also feature the sun prominently, either being swallowed or birthed by the mother goddess.
Nut had many children:
- Horus (The Elder)
Horus: God of the Sky
The Egyptian Horus god of the sky holds a particularly strong, and elusive, place in the mythology. He is known as the god of light and day, and therefore of the sky. He is depicted with the head of a falcon.
He appears in two manifestations:
- Horus the Elder, son of Nut and Geb
- Horus the Younger, son of Isis and Osiris
The worship of Horus is entwined with rituals honoring his parents Isis and Osiris. Festivals throughout the year coinciding with the equinoxes celebrated the birth, death, and rebirth of the gods. Supplicants would act out a play depicting the myth of Isis and Osiris, symbolizing the rebirth of the king. The Sed festival, for example, was held on the thirty year rule of the king. The king would dress in ceremonial attire and demonstrate his vitality. Ceremonies incorporated:
- voice and music
All of these attributes were highly symbolic, serving to associate the king with a godly presence.
Horus and Osiris
The plays performed at the festivals enacted the myth of Isis and Osiris. As the story goes, Osiris was the eldest son of Geb, making him king upon his father's death. Enraged with jealousy, another of Geb's sons, Set, killed Osiris and dismembered his body. Set then ascended to the throne.
Grief-stricken, Isis reassembles her husband's body and brings him back to life with her godly powers. Once he has been resurrected, Osiris impregnates Isis, and Horus is born. When Horus becomes an adult, he struggles to gain the throne himself, eventually killing Set in battle. Horus avenges his father's death.
Horus and Set
Horus' ascent to the throne takes the form of a contest with Set, judged by the gods. They performed a series of battles in which each demonstrated their strength and honor. Set cheated while Horus performed nobly.
- In one episode, Set removes Horus' eyes.
- They race boats made of stone.
- They transform into hippopotamuses to see who can hold their breath longer underwater.
Some versions of the myth end the contest in a tie. Others say Horus claims the throne after much deliberation among the gods. Since Set is depicted as an underhanded trickster, Horus takes on the attributes of honor and nobility.
Horus' four sons are attributed to the Ancient Egyptian burial process, in which the body's organs are removed and placed in ceremonial vases. The four organs associated with Horus' sons were mummified and placed in special receptacles called canopic jars.
- Imsety guards the liver.
- Hapy guards the lungs.
- Duamutef guards the stomach.
- Qebehsenuef guards the intestines.
Who Is the Greek God of the Sky?
Within the Ancient Greek pantheon, or family of gods, there are many gods associated with the sky. Though the Ancient Greeks had no scripture, their religious practice infused everyday life. Sanctuaries were erected in the honor of specific gods, and were situated in places that reflected those deity's attributes. Temples of the sky gods would have been located in elevated places, for instance. Sanctuaries were separated off from surrounding areas by a wall. Temples housed an altar and statue of the god or goddess. Other characteristics of the temple include sacred trees or springs.
Animal sacrifice was a common religious act. Goats or sheep were usually the victims, with the worshipers consuming the meat after the slaughter. Sacrifices such as these were made with the expectation of receiving gifts from the gods. Festivals were also a prominent facet of Ancient Greek religious life. Some such festivals devoted to sky gods include:
- The July Kronia, devoted to the worship of Cronos, involved feasting.
- The January Gamelia celebrated the union of Zeus and Hera, both of whom were associated with the sky.
Zeus: God of the Sky
Zeus god of the sky and wielder of thunder was king of the gods. Zeus was one of the children of the Titan, Cronos. Cronos was vengeful, and Zeus followed after his father. In fear of being overthrown, Cronos swallowed his children. But Rhea, Cronos' wife and Zeus' mother, placed a stone in Zeus' place.
Zeus held a central place in the Greek festivals:
- The February Daisia involved burning sacraments to make amends for past sins in worship of Zeus.
- The April Olympieia honored Zeus through physical exercises and feats of strength and agility.
- New Years thanksgiving festivals in June celebrated Zeus through sacrificial rituals.
To claim his place as the king of the gods, Zeus overthrew his father. This occurred in what is known as the Battle of the Titans. Zeus resurrected his siblings from Cronos' stomach, and they waged war against the old gods. Zeus used his power to wield thunder and lightning to defeat his father.
Uranus: God of the Sky
Before Zeus became Ancient Greece's sky god, there was Uranus god of the sky, the father of the Titan and of Cronos. His power is attributed to the sky, but not much is known about how the Ancient Greeks worshiped this almighty of deities.
Other Greek Sky Gods
In addition to Zeus, his wife Hera was also associated with the sky in several ways. Hera is Queen of the gods and goddess of marriage, women, air and sky. Other minor gods as well were associated with the sky in some ways:
- Helios (God of the sun)
- Selene (Goddess of the moon and sister of Helios)
- Aether (god of the upper air)
- Iris (goddess of rainbows)
- Theia (goddess of sight and brightness)
Who Is the Roman God of the Sky?
Just as in Greek tradition, the Romans worshiped many gods of the sky; there is no single Roman god of the sky. Because of the closeness of their ancient civilizations, both chronologically and geographically, the Roman and Greek civilizations share much in common. Jupiter can be understood as a counterpart to Zeus, for example. As such, the Roman temples of the sky gods have close similarities to their Greek counterparts.
Jupiter: God of Sky and Thunder
Jupiter god of sky and thunder has more similarities to Zeus than differences. Indeed, Jupiter borrows so heavily from Zeus' Greek incarnation that they are virtually indiscernible.
Jupiter was son of Saturn and Ops, the Roman equivalents of Uranus and Rhea. He was attributed to the sky, sun, and moon, as well as thunder, light, dawn, and rain.
On the Ides, which correspond to the full moons, Jupiter's priest would sacrifice a lamb. Additionally, the Roman festival Aquoelicum was dedicated to honoring Jupiter's power to bring rain.
Other Roman Sky Gods
Like the Ancient Greeks, the Roman pantheon assigned a handful of gods the powers of sky, sun, thunder, and moon. Some examples include:
- Helios (retains his name from the Greek tradition)
- Luna (counterpart of the Greek Selene)
Anu, Sky God of the Ancient Sumerians
Anu, also known as An, (literally sky, heaven) was sky god of the Ancient Mesopotamians. Anu sky god, like other gods of the sky across cultures, was:
- Held power to give royal titles to men on Earth.
Unlike the sky gods of Greece and Rome, Anu was supreme; Along with Enlil (god of storm) and Ea/Enki (god of water), Anu created the Earth. Although Anu was the supreme creator, his sons Enlil and Ea were the ones revered and worshiped in Sumerian culture. Temples were erected in their names, in which cults performed ceremonies and bequeathed offerings.
Who is the Huron and Iroquois Goddess of the Sky?
According to Native American Huron and Iroquois mythology, Atahensic was the mother goddess of humankind. Native American mythology relays that there are two levels of the world: Earth and Heaven. According to Huron myth, Atahensic fell to earth from the heavens. In the Iroquois creation myth, the Sky People lived on a floating island. The pregnant Sky Woman was pushed through a hole in the ground by a jealous husband.
Thus, Native American cultures were matriarchal (ruled by women) like the Egyptians (Nut), unlike the patriarchal Greeks and Romans, because their creation myth featured a woman. Native American tribes worshipped the sky goddess at intervals throughout the year, principally when they coincided with agricultural seasons.
Around the world and throughout history, cultures have told stories about the godly men and women who created the world. Many cultures feature the sky, heavens, sun, or moon in these stories. The sky gods can be found in global mythology, mainly Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Sumerian, and Native American. Across cultures, sky gods feature in the pantheon, or family of gods.
- In Ancient Egypt, the goddess Nut gives birth to the sun, Re, every morning.
- Horus, son of Nut, was also a powerful sky god in Ancient Egyptian mythology.
- In Ancient Greece, Zeus was the king of the Gods and wielder of thunder.
- In Ancient Rome, Jupiter served as the counterpart to Zeus.
- In Mesopotamia, Anu gave birth to the Earth.
While The Greeks and Romans worshiped male creation deities, Egyptian and Native American cultures were matriarchal because their creation myths featured women, namely Atahensic.