Wadjet. The Eye of Horus and the Eye of Ra

Okoto-na-Hor

One of the symbols which literally pierces the mythology and history of Egypt, and is relevant to many Gods and Pharaohs, is Wadjet in both of its main appearances – The eye of Ra and the Eye of Horus.

The Eye of Ra

The Sun Eye, as it is commonly called, embodies might and power, fire and light, alertness and speed in acts, and it had the ability to burn down every enemy. The eye is usually illustrated in the form of a cobra (Uraeus), and usually winged (obviously as an honor to the goddess Nekhbet), and sometimes with a sun disk.

The eye of Ra is identified with Wadjet (one of the few goddesses, whose snake-like nature does not provoke any doubts), Nekhbet, Maat, Hathor, as well as all goddesses in the form of lionesses: Tefnut, Sekhmet, Mehit and others.

As a fist Uraeus, guardian of Ra, Wadjet is often presented in the form of erupting flame and snake poison – a sunny eye burning with its fire its enemies. At the base of the illustration of Uraeus, according to some, lies a South Egyptian cobra – Gaia, and according to others – the Viper Aspis.

Uraeus appeared as a symbol of kings’ greatness, the forces of life and death, as well as the ability to control and destroy enemies of Ra. It was an irreplaceable accessory of the hairstyles of Pharaohs in the form of vertical snake upon the forehead, worn on a tiara, and in the Middle Kingdom – on a crown.

The Southern region of Egypt was under the rule of Nekhbet – a Goddess in the image of a vulture, and the Northern – under the rule of the cobra Wadjet. It was believed that Nekhbet and Wadjet were the daughter the Ra and his Eye.

Wadjet-and-Nekhbet
Wadjet and Nekhbet

The Gods and Pharaohs which ruled over Egypt wore the “unified crown of the Two snakes” – the crown Pschent. It represented the unification of the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt into one and symbolizes the connection between the country and its rulers.

The Eye of Horus

The Eye of Horus, also called Atshet, or All-Seeing, as well as the Eye of Healing, represented the innermost wisdom and sight of the soul (clairvoyance).  The eye served as a protector and symbolized healing and resurrection after death.

As is written in the “Book of the Dead,” the Eye of Horus grants eternal life; and it protects even when it’s closed.”

The Eye of Horus is usually illustrated as an eye with an eyebrow and a spiral underneath, which some researchers have interpreted as a symbol of energy and eternal movement.

Amulets fighting off evil, in the form of the Eye of Horus, were worn by many Egyptians – from Pharaohs to common folk. They were placed in the funeral clothes of mummies which were identified with Osiris, as if resurrected in the kingdom of the Afterlife.

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According to some researchers, the Eye of Horus identified both with the left eagle eye of Horus – the Moon, which “resurrects” in the sky every month, and with his right eye – the Sun, which “dying” in the west at night, immediately is “born” in the east. According to others, it only identified with the left eye of Horus – the Moon, while the right Eye of Ra represented the Sun. In this case, the illustrations were identical.

Very often, the Eye of Horus was placed together with one or two Uraeus cobras, a moon, a sun disk or they were illustrated (one or two – the right or the left eye of Horus) in-between Wadjet and Nekhbet, who held it with their nails, tails or wings.