Ra is the oldest deity and father of creation in Egyptian mythology. He was the patron god of power, light, sun, kingdom, and kingship. In time, the Egyptians merged him with other deities, like Horus, leading to the creation of Atum, Amun, and Horakhty. Ra is the most important deity of the Pantheon and one of the common associations when we talk about polytheism.
In Ancient Egyptian, the word “Ra” signified “sun.” Not only was he the protector of the sun, but he was the celestial body itself. According to archeological findings, Ra would ride in a barge navigating across the heaven during the day. Then, as the sun sets, he would go down to the underworld.
Every night, he would be attacked by a giant serpent called Apep or Apophis. The creature wanted to destroy the sun, and with it, the life itself. However, every day Ra would come out victorious and shine upon Egyptians once more.
According to experts, Ra is the most important deity of the Ancient Egyptian Pantheon. He had a major impact on the creation of all other Ancient Egyptian gods. For example, the cult of Amun, which had so many followers that it almost became a monotheistic religion, stemmed from Ra.
Similar can be said for sky-god Horus, who we usually connect to living rulers. Experts often describe Horus as “king and father of the king.” Lastly, it is worth mentioning Ra’s impact on creating deities Atum, Bastet, Sekhmet, and Hathor.
Besides being the protector of the Sun, Ra fulfills numerous other roles, including:
- Heavenly Ra
- Earthly Ra
- Netherworld Ra
- Creator Ra
- King and father Ra
The deity was first introduced during the Old Kingdom, which was between 2613 and 2181 BC. He continued reigning as the most important mythological creation for the next 2000 years until the country switched to Christianity.
The center of Ra’s worship was former Heliopolis (translates to “Sun City”), situated in modern-day Cairo suburbs. According to some experts, he was sometimes portrayed as the creator of Atum, and sometimes, he was identified as him. Until this day, Ra has its holiday. Every 26th of May, people celebrate “The Receiving of Ra.”
RA has six children.