Egyptian MythologyGods and Goddesses

Egyptian Goddess Maat; Discover its history and 3 practices of the goddess

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Egyptian Goddess Ma’at; Discover its history and 3 practices of the goddess

The Goddess Ma’at was the Egyptian Goddess of Balance, Justice, and Order.

Her most known function is weighing the deceased heart on the scale against her feather, the feather of Ma’at. However there is more to this goddess.

In this post we’ll explore the history and various responsibilities associated with her. We will also discover how you can connect to her.

Who was Maat in Ancient Egypt?

Egyptian Goddess Ma’at was the daughter of the sun god Ra. Her name also meant  Mayet which translated to that which is straight.

Ma’at was born when Ra spoke the world into creation in the primordial waters of Nun. She was also known as the consort of the Egyptian God Thoth and the mother of the Ogdoad in some sources.

Depiction of Maat

Ma’at was usually depicted as kneeling with arms/wings open on a stable stone platform and wearing the feather of truth.

In another common depiction, Maat stands with an ankh and the Was Scepter in each hand.

The most abstract form of the Egyptian Goddess Maat was her link to “Order” during the creation of the world by Ra.

While her personification was Justice. This is emphasized by the weighing of the soul and her depiction of being headless with a feather to represent her head.

What were the functions of Ma’at in Ancient Egypt?

The Spirit of Ma’at

Once a person was dead in ancient Egypt they passed through Duat, the Egyptian Realm of the dead.

The scale of Anubis served as the function of weighing with the heart of the deceased on one end and the feather of Ma’at placed on the other end.

The weighing of the heart began by having the deceased repeat the 42 laws of Maat. If the heart weighed lighter than the feather then the soul could pass into Aaru the Egyptian Heaven. However, if the heart weighed heavier than the feather then the crocodile god Sobek devoured their soul.

Book of the dead
Book of Dead, Anubis weighing with Ma’at as scales. (Photo credit Steven Zucker)

Keeper of Values and Traditions

Ma’at was also an abstraction during those days for unchanging values and traditions. Kings in ancient Egypt performed Ma’at by giving offerings to Gods.

The offerings were symbolic of Ma’at by upholding the principles of Order which were in place since the beginning of times when Ra creates the world. This ensured permanence and continuity of values and tradition in the Ancient Egyptian societies.

Maatkare

There is no official Temple in the honor of Ma’at. However, Queen Hatshepsut 18th Dynasty of Egypt (the second female Pharaoh of Egypt to have been historically confirmed) considered herself as the embodiment of Ma’at, which was also called Maatkare.

Maatkare loosely translates to the Goddess Maat is the life force of the Sun God Re. She built a temple for Maat in the Karnak Montu area.

Karnak Temple Palace of Ma'at
Karnak Temple Palace of Ma’at (Photo credits kairoinfo4u)

No functions of Ma’at is complete without mentioning her 42 laws, the earliest mention of them is found in the Pyramid Texts. The papyrus of Ani or Book of the dead considered them to be 42 declarations of purity.

42 Laws of Ma’at

  1. I have not committed sin.
  2. I have not committed robbery with violence.
  3. I have not stolen.
  4. I have not slain men and women.
  5. I have not stolen grain.
  6. I have not purloined offerings.
  7. I have not stolen the property of the gods.
  8. I have not uttered lies.
  9. I have not carried away food.
  10. I have not uttered curses.
  11. I have not committed adultery.
  12. I have made none to weep.
  13. I have not eaten the heart [i.e., I have not grieved uselessly, or felt remorse].
  14. I have not attacked any man.
  15. I am not a man of deceit.
  16. I have not stolen cultivated land.
  17. I have not been an eavesdropper.
  18. I have slandered no man.
  19. I have not been angry without just cause.
  20. I have not debauched the wife of any man.
  21. I have not debauched the wife of any man (repeats the previous affirmation but addressed to a different god).
  22. I have not polluted myself.
  23. I have terrorized none.
  24. I have not transgressed the Law.
  25. I have not been wroth.
  26. I have not shut my ears to the words of truth.
  27. I have not blasphemed.
  28. I am not a man of violence.
  29. I am not a stirrer up of strife (or a disturber of the peace).
  30. I have not acted (or judged) with undue haste.
  31. I have not pried into matters.
  32. I have not multiplied my words in speaking.
  33. I have wronged none, I have done no evil.
  34. I have not worked witchcraft against the King (or blasphemed against the King).
  35. I have never stopped the flow of water.
  36. I have never raised my voice (spoken arrogantly, or in anger).
  37. I have not cursed or blasphemed God.
  38. I have not acted with evil rage.
  39. I have not stolen the bread of the gods.
  40. I have not carried away the khenfu cakes from the spirits of the dead.
  41. I have not snatched away the bread of the child, nor treated with contempt the god of my city.
  42. I have not slain the cattle belonging to the god.
Ma'at - representative of law, order and truth. Temple of Sobek, Kom Ombo
Ma’at – representative of law, order, and truth. Temple of Sobek, Kom Ombo. (Photo credit Carlos Bustamante Restrepo)

The 7 Principles of Ma’at

In addition to the laws of Ma’at there was also 7 principles of Maat:

  1. Truth
  2. Justice
  3. Harmony
  4. Balance
  5. Order
  6. Reciprocity
  7. Propriety
    The Ancient Egyptians lived their daily lives honoring those principles through their beliefs and rules.

3 methods to integrate Maat into your spiritual life?

  1. Ask yourself this question “What is the Truth to me?” and spend some time reflecting on it. You may even want to keep a piece of paper by your side to note down any impression that comes to you. This helps you to identify your own personal truth and align your beliefs and values to it. It can also help you change habits or behaviors that are no longer serving you to get more in alignment with your true self.
  2. Pathworking is a guided journey you undertake to refine your personality. It uses symbolism either known or abstract as a means to achieve this integration. You could write a pathwork linked to the Judgement Hall of Osiris. You can place your heart on the scale of Anubis. Repeat the 42 laws of Ma’at, if you feel the scale tipping heavier than Maat’s feather then those would be places where some work could be beneficial. This is not something to be afraid of but rather see it as something that brings you into more alignment with your Higher Self.
  3. Meditate on the Emperor and Justice Major Arcana, the Major Arcanas contain a wealth of symbolism already. The Emperor, in this case, is the embodiment of structure which also means order. Allow yourself to embody the emperor and find the loopholes in your structure in your search for the Truth. This is also a good exercise to experience the aforementioned “Pharaoh being Maat”.
    The Justice card is a good card to meditate for taking account of your actions and seek your own truth.

Summary (TLDR)

The Ancient Egyptians saw both the personification and abstraction of Maat as something very important. However, since truth is a timeless concept we can still abide by Maat nowadays. By integrating Maat in your spiritual practice you set yourself up for proper structure and beliefs on your spiritual path, working with Maat forces you to review a lack of balance in your life. Comment below with any ideas you have to integrate more Maat into your spiritual practices.

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