Eye Of Ra – Powerful Ancient Egyptian Symbol With Deep Meaning

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David Tee - AncientPages.com - When it comes to ancient myths, legends and symbols, one has to be careful how they read the old information. That is because some of the ancient religious symbols are used more than once but have different purposes.

This holds true for the Eye of Horus and the Eye of Ra. Basically, they are the same symbol, yet they have different purposes behind them. Horus’s eye was seen more as a protecting spirit, while Ra’s had different functions attributed to it.

Also, the eye symbol has been attached to Sekhmet, Wadjet, and Bast and the first used her eye to try to destroy the human race. She was stopped by God Ra.

The Purpose Of The Eye Of Ra

When ancient gods get symbols attached to their name, it is because they ancient worshippers see their god in certain ways. Unlike other Egyptian gods, Ra started out as a real Pharaoh. Exactly where he fit into the different Egyptian rulers is unknown and he may have been one of the original rulers of Egypt.

Eye Of Ra - Powerful Ancient Egyptian Symbol With Deep Meaning

The Egyptian sun god Ra was said to sail his boat across the sky by day and carry it back through the underworld by night.  Credit: Public Domain

One myth has that the human Ra was old and very weak. Because he was vulnerable, his people started to ignore his laws and instructions. He sent his daughter, the eye of Ra in the form of a lion to punish his people.

Another myth has the eye of Ra used to obtain information. Sometimes that purpose is used in conjunction with the previous one and he administers his from justice with the information gathered by his eye.

A more benign purpose for the Eye can be seen when Ra acts like a loving father and sends his eye out to search for his two lost children.

The Difference Between Eye Of Horus And Eye Of Ra

There is a way to determine the difference between the Eye of Horus and the Eye of Ra. One main difference is that the Iris of Horus’ eye is colored blue. Ra’s eye uses red to color his eye.

Another depiction of Ra’s eye is the symbol of a cobra wrapped around a sun disk. The problem with this symbol is that it is also used to depict the goddess Wadjet. She also has a relationship with the eye as her symbol.

Eye Of Horus – Powerful, Ancient Egyptian Symbol With Deep Meaning

An Eye of Horus or Wedjat pendant. Credit: Jon Bodsworth, Wikipedia

How Ra’s sun disk came about is due to myth as well. When Ra’s two children were lost, he sent out his eye to look for them. During the absence of the original eye, Ra grew another one. When the first eye successfully returned with the children, it grew jealous and very upset.

To solve his problem, Ra simply appeased the first eye by turning it into a uraeus and put it above the other eyes on his forehead. A final depiction of Ra’s eye is seen in the form of a cat.

This cat was often used to protect Ra from a serpent called Apep. This depiction can get confusing as well since the cat is linked to at least 7 other Egyptian gods.

God Ra’s Biblical Connection

The most detailed information we get about Egypt can be found in the account of the biblical plagues. Scholars have determined that the different plagues showed the inferior status and inability of the Egyptian gods to protect the Egyptian people.

The most detailed information we get about Egypt can be found in the account of the biblical plagues. Scholars have determined that the different plagues showed the inferior status and inability of the Egyptian gods to protect the Egyptian people.

Eye Of Ra - Powerful Ancient Egyptian Symbol With Deep Meaning

Relief from the sanctuary of Khonsu Temple at Karnak. The Eye of Ra can be equated with the disk of the sun, with the cobras coiled around the disk, and with the white and red crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. Credit: Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the plagues carried locusts to the land of Egypt. There were so many locusts in this plague that they blotted out the sun. Ra was seen by the Egyptian people as the sun-god and with the sky darkened, Ra was powerless to do anything He could not even use his eye to stop the locusts from destroying the land.

It is possible that God Horus has a biblical connection as well. The plague against the cattle is seen as a destruction against the goddess Hathor. The name Hathor means the house of Horus.

One More Difference Between Ra and Horus

Because of the existence of the two eye’s, Ra’s and Horus’, a distinction had to be made as to their purpose. Since Ra was the sun god, his eye represented the sun. Horus’ eye was given the moon.

See also:

Remarkable Sekhmet: Lioness Goddess With Many Names And Complex Personality

Ankh – Mysterious Ancient Egyptian Symbol With Many Meanings And Unknown History

12 Ancient Egyptian Symbols Explained

12 Masonic Symbols Explained

11 Ancient Sacred Indian Symbols Explained

More About Ancient Symbols

The issue for most Egyptologists is that the ancient records do not clearly state if it is the right or the left eye that Horus lost. Some myths have the right eye and those myths also equate the loss of Horus’ eye with an eclipse.

The Modern Meanings Of The Eye Of Ra

Outside of ancient Egypt, the Eye of Ra seems to have lost popularity and modern use. It is not used as widely, if at all, for different secret organizations or other purposes. On the other hand, the eye of Horus is seen throughout history outside of Egyptian purposes.

Different eyes are seen on coffins and are used to help the deceased to see in the afterlife. This could be Horus’ or Ra’s eye, the owner is not clarified. But when it comes to extra-Egyptian use, it is Horus’ eye that is used the most.

The Americans use the Eye of Providence on the back of their dollar bill. As mentioned earlier on Ancient Pages, some scholars trace it's history to ancient Egypt and the Eye of Horus.

Eye Of Providence – Powerful, Secret Symbol With Deep Meaning

Left: The Eye of Providence can be seen on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, seen here on the US $1 bill. Credit: Wikipedia - Right: All-seeing eye on the top of the Declaration of Human Rights (1789), French Revolution. Credit: Wikipedia

The Thelemites use the eye as they stated that 1904 was the beginning of the age of Horus.

Then there are some of those people who see any eye symbol, including Ra’s, as a symbol of oppression. In their minds, when the eye symbol appears, it means that the people are going to be subjugated, dumbed down, manipulated and more.

Some Final Thoughts

The time of the ancient Egyptians has long passed. How they believed and what purpose they attached to different eye symbols or which god had the best eye is left in history. Myths and legends can only give us a partial picture of what these symbols stood for.

The question of which eye, Horus’ or Ra’s, is greater is left to personal preference and their own personalities. Some like the power of Ra’s eye while others would be more attracted to the healing and protective nature of Horus’s eye.

In any  case, the two eyes are not the same and serve different purposes.

Written by – David Tee - AncientPages.com Staff Writer

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Expand for references

David Livingston, The Plagues And The Exodus, (1991). Bible and Spade, 4(1), 4 &

(1991). Bible and Spade, 4(1), 10.

Ancient Egypt Online