Women in Ancient Egypt
Except for hard labor and jobs that require muscles, women in ancient Egypt were on par with males in every way. “Men fought, rule the government, and deal with the land; women cooked, stitched, and deal with the household; men fought, operated the government, and managed the farm.” Men held positions of influence such as king, governor, and military, and a man was considered the head of the home, yet women had significant power and independence under that patriarchy.
Women were treated with respect in ancient Egypt, which can be seen in nearly every facet of society, from religious beliefs to social conventions. Male and female gods coexisted, each with their own equally essential areas of specialty. Women had the freedom to marry whom they pleased and divorce those who no longer suited them, to work at whatever jobs they pleased (within reason), and to travel wherever they pleased. The value of the feminine principle is emphasized in all of the culture’s oldest creation myths, to varying degrees.
The Divine Feminine
The deity Atum appears on the primordial mound in the middle of the whirling seas of chaos in the most common creation myth and begins to create the world. In some versions of this story, however, it is the deity Neith who delivers creation, and the primordial waters are personified as Nu and Naunet, a balancing of male and feminine energies in harmony who join for the creative act, even though Atum is the prominent figure.
Women continue to play an important role after the creation and the beginning of time, as proven by the equally popular myth of Osiris and Isis. After the formation of the world (that is, Egypt), this brother and sister marriage was claimed to have ruled it and taught human beings the principles of civilization, agriculture, and proper deity worship. Osiris is killed by his envious brother Set, and it is Isis who returns him back to life, gives birth to his son Horus and educates him to be king, and works to restore balance to the realm alongside her sister Nephthys and some other goddesses such as Serket and Neith.
Ancient Egyptian Female Goddesses
After getting drunk on beer and waking up in a more joyous mood, the goddess Hathor, who was sent to earth as the killer Sekhmet to punish humanity for their misdeeds, becomes people’s friend and close associate. Tenenet was the goddess of beer, the drink of the deities, who gave humanity the recipe and supervised successful brewing. Tayet, the deity of weaving, and Tefnut, the goddess of wetness, were all goddesses of the written word and librarians. Renpet, who nicked her palm branch to mark the passing of time, represented the year’s passing as feminine. Bastet, one of Egypt’s most well-known goddesses, was a guardian of women, the home, and women’s mysteries. Women were significant parts of the clergy and sanctuary life in Egyptian religion because the feminine was valued and elevated.
Women in Ancient Egyptian Religion
Beginning in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2040-1782 BCE), the most important position a woman could have was God’s Wife of Amun. There were several “God’s Wives” linked with various deities, and the God’s Wife of Amun was initially just one of many in the Middle Kingdom. The God’s Wife was an honoured title bestowed on a lady (of any class at first, but afterwards of the upper class) who would help the high priest in rituals and care for the god’s statue. During the New Kingdom of Egypt (1570-1069 BCE), the post grew in importance until, by the Third Intermediate Period (1069-525 BCE), the God’s Wife of Amun held the same power as a king and virtually dominated Upper Egypt. The most known of the God’s Wives during the New Kingdom period was the female pharaoh Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE), although there were many more women who held the position before and after her.
Writers and priests, usually of a religion with a feminine goddess, could be women. Isis’ priests, for example, were both male and female, whereas cults dedicated to a male deity typically had only male priests (as in the case of Amun). The great prestige of Amun’s God’s Wife is another illustration of the ancient Egyptians’ attention to balance, as the status of Amun’s High Priest was counterbalanced by an equally prominent female.
Ancient Egyptian Women and the Holy Festivals
At festivals where women habitually played prominent roles, like as the two virgins who would recite The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys at Osiris festivals, people interacted most fully with their gods. People came to the temple to call for assistance, repay debts, give thanks, and seek advice on problems, choices, and dream interpretation. Priests retained the temples and cared for the divine statue, and people came to the temple to call for assistance on various matters, repay debts, express gratitude, and seek counsel on problems, choices, and dream interpretation.