29 June 2008

The Ankh of Isis is coming!

In another week and two days - July 8 - the second book in The Library of Athena series, The Ankh of Isis, will be released by Samhain! Woot! Isn't the cover AWESOME! I love SP's cover art department, and Christine Clavel, who also did the cover for The Crown of Zeus, had come through again.

This book takes us to Ancient Egypt (uh, obviously, I guess). There will be adventure, and danger, and even...a little romance?!? Well, it IS YA, so don't get all excited. But there is a cute boy.

In honor of the upcoming release, here's a list of the top ten Egyptian Gods you should know. One thing you need to know about the religion of Ancient Egypt - it was all about the afterlife. Hence the emphasis on elaborate tombs stuffed with treasure. You would spend your life earning your way to a pleasant afterlife, and not getting was a horrifying thought. With that in mind, I give you the Egyptian Gods!


Isis

The Queen of Egyptian Gods! Wife of Osiris, mother of Horus, and the goddess of magic and symbol of motherhood. She tracked down all 13 pieces of her husband when his brother, Set, cut him up after he had stuffed him into a box and Isis retrieved him. If nothing else, she's persistent. Don't mess with Isis.






Osiris


If he looks like a mummy, well, there's a really good reason for that. At first, he was the God of Goodness. But when his brother tricked him into a coffin during a banquet and he was ressurrected, he became the God of the Dead. Ultimate judge, using the Feather of Maat) of who gets to pass into the afterlife and who gets eaten by the Ammut. Symbol of eternal life (which was THE most important thing to the Ancient Egyptians) as well as fertility.




Horus

The falcon headed god, and son of Isis and Osiris. Thoth, the God of Wisdom, offered to help him find his father - all he had to do was look him in the eye. Set distracted Horus by turning himself into a pig, and the result was Horus' eye was burned out. The eye of Horus is a powerful Egyptian symbol. Protector and guide to all the Pharaohs.







Annubis

God of Mummification. He has a jackal's head, and oversees both the transfer of people to the afterlife and guards the Necropolis (city of the Dead). People who performed mummification were priests of Annubis, and his book is the Book of the Dead. No, it doesn't bring them back to life, but contains instructions on mummification, and prayers and spells for the deceased.




Maat

Goddess of truth, order, and justice. Akin to the modern Blind Justice. It is her feather (see it there on top of her head?) that decideds whether or not a soul is worthy to pass into the afterlife. A man's heart would be weighed against the feather - if your heart was lighter than the feather, you pass. If not, your heart was fed to the Ammut, and well...sucks to be you.


Maat is also the priniciple of justice, and it was the Pharaoh's responsibility to uphold Maat.



Ammut

This creature, with the head of a croc, the rear end of a hippo, and body of a lion, this female demon played a vital role in the judging of souls. If yours didn't pass the test of Maat, then Ammut would devour it and spend an eternity digesting it. And sorry, you don't get to go to the afterlife. To the Ancient Egyptians, this was literally a fate worse than death.



Thoth

Thoth has the head of an ibis - a bird - and is the god of wisdom, knowledge, and language/writing. He tried to help Horus find his father by using his gift of vision. Creator of magic and writing. The mythical Book of Thoth was said to be able to teach man the language of the animals and birds, to see the wind and hear the secrets of the stars.


Bastet
Cat-headed Goddess of women, the moon, and secrets. It is said that she is a wild goddess, and to incur her wrath is to feel that of the beasts. If you were in her favor, she blessed you accordingly. Cats were widely worshipped in Ancient Egypt, so Bastet (or Bast) is one of the most important goddesses, next to Isis. Her name was often carved on the sides of jars of perfume, which was very expensive, so that she would protect them.





Hathor
Goddess of Love, Music, and Beauty. She's one of the most ancient gods of Egypt, and yes, despite having the head of a cow, she's the goddess of beauty. Most of her priests and priestesses were artisans who turned her worship into works of art. Comparable to the muses of Greece.
Set
Set is the brother of Osiris, and a pretty bad dude. He's the God of Evil - winds, wrath, war, darkness, and conflict. He held a banquet and invited 72 of his cronies...and his brother. When he offered a beautiful coffin to the one who could fit inside, of course the only one who did fit was Osiris (since the box had been measured only to fit him). Set shoved him inside and sealed the box with lead. When Isis retrieves the box, Set tore his brother's body into pieces and scattered them across Egypt, creating the 13 tribes. To this day Osiris and Set battle it out, in the neverending conflict between good and evil.
There are far more gods from Ancient Egypt, of course, but these are the big ones. Be sure to check out The Ankh of Isis from Samhain on July 8!
Egyptian clipart on this page courtesy of Neferchichi's Tomb
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