Old Kingdom Pantheon
The Old Kingdom is the pantheon of gods worshiped by the people of Kemhet and, to a degree, in neighboring lands; many people of Deshret also revere these gods. By and large, the deities of Kemhet are thought to be among the very oldest of all divinities.
It should be noted that the deities and personified concepts of Kemhet are so many that all could not be listed in this article, and instead, several of the primary deities will be detailed as opposed to all of them.
- 1 Central Concepts
- 2 Gods of Order
- 3 Gods of Nurture
- 4 Gods of Chaos
- 5 Other Gods
The following are some of the most important concepts that hold together the religion of the Old Kingdom.
It is important to note that all of the gods revered and prayed to in Kemhet exist around a centralized concept called ma'at (which is also sometimes personified as a goddess). Ma'at forms the backbone of Kemheti religion itself and one of the singular most important aspects of life; ma'at is the unifying order that allows people to live and the mortal realm to exist. It takes both the gods and Men to create such a balance. Ma'at, when not personified as a woman, is often associated with the stars of the night sky, which signify divinity and harmony, while also serving as a constant reminder of the existence of the gods and their eternity.
Souls and the Afterlife
There are those who claim that the religion of Kemhet is one of "death worship," given the outsider concept that Kemhetis are preoccupied with death, embalming, tombs, and deities of death. However, the Old Kingdom focuses on life rather than death; death is a part of life and merely a stage in the existence of the immortal soul. Souls in Kemheti religion are vast and complex, undergoing many stages and forms over time. Mortal life is seen as perhaps the greatest test of the soul's virtues: after the death of their physical body, the virtuous continue to another worthy stage of their immortal existence, whereas the amoral will either be cast down to be punished for their evil or destroyed altogether. It is, therefore, a part of Kemheti religion to live a good and virtuous life while alive and walking the mortal realm.
Gods of Order
The gods of order are thus categorized because they play a central role in battling directly against some form of evil. These gods include but are not limited to the ruling deities and other important deities whose domains involve protection, war, and death.
Also called Amun-Ra, Ra was once only god of the sun; later, his aspect became intwined with that of the god of air, Amun, creating Amun-Ra, god of the sun and air itself. He is said to be one of the most powerful gods in all the Old Kingdom and serves as their king. It is he who guards the sun as it rises and sets each day, protecting it from evil. Ra is depicted as a man with the head of a falcon with the sun disk above his head.
One of the most powerful of all the Old Kingdom and one of the most widely worshiped, Isis's aspects encapsulate almost all of life itself. She is considered at times to be above even Ra as the Goddess of the Throne, and she cares for the other gods as well as all those who worship her. She is depicted as a beautiful woman in a sheath dress, bearing an ankh and reed staff.
Also one of the most powerful and important gods of the Old Kingdom, Anubis is the god of death and embalming, said to be one of the oldest deities of the pantheon. He is depicted as a man with the head of a black wolf, and he guides souls to the afterlife and judges them at the head of a great court, and it is ultimately he who judges the soul, strictly but fairly.
Horus is an enigmatic and complicated figure not always well understood by foreigners, given his complex history and aspects. His domains include the sun, the sky, power itself, kingship, and vengeance. He is depicted as a man with the head of a falcon; his symbol is the Eye of Horus, which represents protection, healing, and the moon.
One of the most powerful deities of the Old Kingdom, Sekhmet's own name means "power." She is violent and vicious. Her domains include war and destruction; she is the prime deity of the Kemheti military alongside Upuaut. Life is said to exist by her mercy, as she can bring or protect from various forms of death, including plagues and desert winds, and she is sometimes invoked for healing. She is depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness.
Upuaut is ancient enough to bear many epithets, including Sed and Wepwawet. He is one of the oldest and most powerful of the Old Kingdom gods. He is the god of justice and the guardian of the kings and kingship itself, called the "Opener of Ways," guiding souls through various passages of this life and the next and thought to be connected to the Spirit Realm. He is also a primary god of war, often seen on the prow of warships and considered to be a harbinger for battle. He is one of the primary deities of all of Kemhet's pharaohs, so great is his power. He is depicted as a man with the head of a white wolf.
Bes is a short, bearded god thought to be similar to or derived from the Dvergar. His domains are many: he is associated with sexuality, war, and even humor. He is seen primarily as a protector, especially of the household, including women and children, often a servant of Bast. His greatest followers are the Desert Dwarves, called Besak-ha by the people of the South. His wife, Besset, is also invoked as a protector of the home, women, and children.
Another god associated with the sun, Maahes protects the innocent; his domains include truth, and he is a prime upholder of ma'at. However, he is vengeful and can be violent in his utmost dedication to preserving the sacred order of life. He is depicted as a man with the head of a lion.
Gods of Nurture
The gods of nurture are those whose domains fall into less violent categories, such as those who rule over elements innate to a peaceful life, the household, and other, calmer aspects.
Also called Bastet, Bast is one of the most universally loved and powerful deities, revered by all the people of Kemhet, men and women alike. Her domains are women, the secrets of women, childbirth, fertility, and especially cats. She protects the home itself from all things, especially evil. She is depicted as a woman with the head of a cat.
God of rebirth, Osiris is considered by some to be another judge of the dead (there are many), similar to Anubis but lesser than him. His domains include primarily rebirth, life, and association with the afterlife, but also agriculture. He is generally depicted as a green-skinned mummified pharaoh, and it is said he was one of the first beings ever mummified; thus, he is sometimes called the god of mummification. The djed symbol is meant to represent his spine, a symbol of stability, balance, and the cycle of life and death.
God of architects, creation, and craftsmen, Ptah is a deity invoked often by the builders of Kemheti civilization and is said to have been one of the creators of the world. He is depicted as a mummified man with green skin, carrying the combined symbols of the djed, to represent stability; the was scepter, to represent power; and the ankh, to represent life.
A very important god, Thoth, Lord of Time, rules over the domains of wisdom, writing, and truth, and is sometimes associated with the moon. He invented writing in Kemhet and keeps records of all history and the gods, hence is connection with time itself. He is a very benevolent god who has gifted the people of Kemhet with the written word, and thus his followers primarily include scribes, librarians, and historians. He is depicted as a man with the head of an ibis bird, usually holding a writing tool.
Hathor is the goddess of celebration, joy, love of life, and drunkenness, as well as of friendship itself. She is often associated with women, much like Bast, as well as gratitude and food and drink. From her comes all sustenance, and she is often invoked to thank her for her bounty and to bless food before meals. She is depicted as a woman with a cow's head.
Serket is a very important goddess, evoked to protect from venom. She is especially protective of children. Her domains include healing, and she is the prime deity of healers, and most all of her priests are healers, themselves. She, like many in the Old Kingdom, protect souls on their way to the afterlife and help Horus's four sons guard the canopic jars of the dead. She is depicted as a woman with a scorpion headdress and scorpion jewelry.
Sobek is a very important deity and widely worshiped across all of Kemhet. He is the god of water, medicine, and surgery, who rules over marshlands and other wetlands around the River Yter. He is immensely powerful, a king in his own right, and invoked during medicinal processes to ask him never to suddenly take a life, as he is capable of doing. He is depicted as a man with the head of a crocodile. His greatest center of worship rests in Shedet.
Hapi is another fertility god, one directly associated with the River Yter and its lifegiving waters. It is Hapi who causes the river to flood and leave behind healthy soil in which to grow crops. He is depicted as a man with a large belly and sometimes with blue skin.
Gods of Chaos
The gods of chaos in the Old Kingdom are those who oppose ma'at and create balance necessary to maintain existence.
Set the Destroyer is one of the primary deities in all the Old Kingdom for his sheer power; he is perhaps the greatest force of chaos across the realms, feared by all. His domains are chaos, war, the desert, storms, pestilence, all sandstorms, and the lifeless red sands of Deshret; he is called the first murderer of Kemhet. However, he is not an always malevolent demon; though his domains are undesirable, he exists in necessary balance against the forces of order. He is depicted in many ways, often as a man with the head of a strange, somewhat canid beast called the *sha*; it is sometimes thought to be a chimeran.
Also called Apep, Apophis is an ancient deity that has been cast down by the gods and now serves as the Demon Lord of Malice. He assaults Ra each night as he carries the sun through the Underworld. He is depicted as a massive serpent.
Ma'at and Isfet
Ma'at and Isfet are a pair of deities in the Old Kingdom that are often equated with or associated with the gods of Parsanshar: Ormazd and Ahriman. Ma'at is a personification of the aforementioned centralizing concept of all Kemheti religion, including truth, justice, and balance in all things; when personified, Ma'at's symbol is the ostrich feather of truth. She is often associated with Ormazd, thought to be related to him somehow, perhaps by birth or other family ties; she is also thought by some to be an inspiration for the cult of Astra Aeterna. She exists in constant balance with the mysterious, formless personification of her opposing qualities: Isfet, who embodies injustice, malevolence, and chaos. Isfet is openly equated with the Parsanshari deity Ahriman.
Ammit is the devourer of souls. She has the head of a crocodile, body of a leopard, and hindquarters of a hippo. If a soul is judged by the gods to be unworthy, that heart is given to Ammit to be devoured; a heart devoured by Ammit is said to have its soul utterly destroyed for all eternity, at least according to the people of Kemhet.
One of the most enigmatic of all gods, Heka is said to be among the most powerful of the Old Kingdom. God of magic, he is sometimes thought of as the source of Arcane power, though this is wildly disputed. He is depicted as a man carrying a staff and a knife.
Shai is the masculine personification of Fate, the inescapable destiny that exists for all living things and the world as a whole. No one can resist or alter the will of Shai, and he is present at all judgment of souls, presiding patiently. He is sometimes associated with serpents.
Sometimes thought to be another aspect of Ra, Khepri is a god of sunrise and beetles. It is said by the Kemheti people that Khepri created the Khepridin.