CHAPTER V

Rituals and Sacrifices

As in many countries and cultures around the world in bygone days, Egypt also had rituals and believed in making sacrifices, human or otherwise.

Rituals

Ancient Egyptians preformed various kinds of rituals for various reasons; to maintain peace and order in the world, to protect the dead, to seek guidance, help and so forth. It’s no different than how the modern day society goes to church, synagogues, mosques, or temples to pray, praise or give out offerings.

Daily offering ceremonies in temples were one of the most commonly practiced rituals in ancient Egypt. Offering food, clothing, carvings, weapons, tools and so forth was a way of honoring and caring for the gods that have created them. These daily ritual were supervised by temple priests. 

Private rituals, such as hymning or evoking mythical events, were also preformed, but these were often referred to as ‘magical’ and they were for the purpose of healing an illness or getting protection.

Breaking red pots after it’s been used for purification by water, was also a customary ritual. It was part of the funerary tradition, which was purposed to protect the dead from their enemies or evil spirits. These pots had inscriptions of the enemy’s name and breaking it symbolized their destruction. 

“3 times half loaf offerings and reversion of offerings, 3 times removing the footprints and breaking of the red pots, once lay (down) the royal offering, wash, sit down by the offering, once libation water, incense fire, an offering which the king gives to the Osiris Ni-ankh-pepi”

— Rule of this ritual from the Unas- cemetery, Mastaba of Ni-anch-Pepi

Sacrifices

Blood sacrifice was regarded as the most supreme form of rituals in ancient Egypt. It seen as a very powerful way of appeasing the gods.

Initially, animals were the only creatures that were sacrificed. Bulls, for instance, were symbolized as the god Taurus, who had features of both human and animal. So sacrificing the bull was seen as a way of giving the gods a noble gift – a demigod.

Crocodiles were also commonly slaughtered, as they symbolized Seth at Edfu and Dendera.

Then with the course of time, Egyptians began to sacrifice humans.  During human sacrificial ceremonies, the victims would first be treated and honored as gods before the killing. Historians believe that most of the sacrificial victims were criminals, rebels or prisoners of war.

According to the legends, criminals were sacrificed to appease the most powerful goddess in Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet, who was killed by a rebellious person.

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