David Tee - AncientPages.com - What does the eye mean? This is the big question and the history of the Eye of Horus is very interesting.
Archaeological research has shown that the Eye of Horus was seen by some ancient people, not just the Egyptians, to be a special symbol that fought off evil spirits, similar to the purpose of the Hamsa symbol. The archaeologists came to this conclusion after finding 3 eyes of Horus on the Tel Dor necklace.
An Eye of Horus or Wedjat pendant. Credit: Jon Bodsworth, Wikipedia
Another use for the Eye of Horus can be found in ancient Egyptian literature where its meaning was transformed from a symbol for good things to be an expression for positive imagery. This transformation did not remove it from its association with the sun but merely added another facet to its godly status.
While the Eye still holds many of its ancient meanings, it is safe to say that different people place different meanings on the Eye. Yet, where did the eye originate?
The Origin Of The Eye Of Horus
This symbol for goodness or a god can be found in the 15 to 13th centuries BC in the land of the Palestinians. But this is not the region of origin. The Palestinian use of the Eye was imported from the Egyptians, which was easily done since Egypt did rule much of Palestine at different times in ancient history
The Egyptian god Horus goes way back into early ancient Egyptian times. Horus was known as the sun god long before Ra took his place. yet, the eye of Horus has an even earlier origin as before it became known as the Eye of Horus, it was referred to as the Wadjet.
There are variations to the term Wadjet and was often associated with the goddess named Wadjet. Before it became attached to Horus though, other gods had the pleasure of being associated with the all-seeing eye. These gods were Hathor, Bast, Sekhmet, Tefnut, Nekhbet and Mut.
The Loss Of An Eye
The early sun god was named Horus but he was not just associated with the sun. His two eyes were said to be both the sun and the moon. When Ra took over the title of sun god, he was also known as “Ra-Horakhty or Ra, who is Horus of the 2 horizons.”
It was in a battle with Set that Horus lost the use of one eye. It is often debated which one as two myths do not agree with each other on which eye was damaged. Thoth restored the eye, and this was when Horus was also named Wadjet.
The waxing and waning of the moon were often though of as a replay of the loss and subsequent healing of Horus’ eye.
Ancient Use Of The Eye Of Horus
Because many ancient Egyptians believed that the Eye was all-seeing, they decided that the best use for it was to bring the eye to jewelry, amulets, knives, and other items in their daily life. By doing so, the ancient Egyptians and Palestinians thought they were being protected from evil.
The all-seeing eye could see what was happening and then summon help for the victim.
The Eye Of Horus And The Elements
Besides the all-seeing nature and protective properties assigned to the Eye by the ancient Egyptians, they also associated different elements with it. These elements had to do with the senses and thought:
- The eyebrow above the eye represented thought
- The pupil, of course, represented sight
- The triangle shape inside the eye was to represent hearing
- The triangle shape represented smell
- Finally, the spiral curve was thought to be the tongue and it represented taste
Along with this and the protective properties were given to the eye, the ancient also added one more property. The ancients used the eye to help them form their ingredients for medicines and pigments.
Amulet with the Eye of Horus. Earthenware, Achaemenid artwork, late 6th–4th centuries BC. From the Tell of the Apadana in Susa. Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen, Wikipedia
The eye is divided into 6 parts to represent the destruction caused by the god Set. Not only were those parts given the elements above, but they were also given specific fractions. The smell was ½; Sight was ¼; Though was 1/8; Hearing was 1/16; Taste was 1/32; and Touch was 1/64.
The Egyptians could do both simple and complicated math problems and calculations just by using the fractions assigned to Horus’ eye parts.
The Eye Is Everywhere
This is the key to understanding the Eye of Horus. It has to be everywhere in order to see all things. Even the dead in ancient Egypt were not free from the gaze of the eye. Thoth is recorded in the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead as the one who repaired blind or damaged eyes.
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This was done because the Egyptians believed that every part of the body had to function normally to help the deceased in the afterlife. Yet this was not the only mention of the eye in relation to the dead.
The eye of Horus was found throughout different tombs, sarcophagi, coffins, boats and much more. Horus sort of had an omnipresence in Egyptian life. Sailors wanted his protection when they departed on dangerous and risky sailing adventures.
The Modern Use Of The Eye
Probably the most famous modern use of the Eye of Horus is its association with the Illuminati.
As mentioned earlier on Ancient Pages, there is a very close connection between the Eye of Providence, also known as the All Seeing Eye and the Eye of Horus. You may have seen the Eye of Providence on the back of the American dollar bill. The reason it is included is not well known. But for the engravers of the dollar bill it serves its purpose.
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 Eye of Providence is a powerful symbol that has been used for hundreds of years, if not longer. Some scholars trace it's history to ancient Egypt and the Eye of Horus. The All Seeing Eye has been an important Christian symbol that can often be found on stained glass windows of churches.
Though science has since dispelled many of the myths associated with the Eye, it has not lost its attractiveness and many people look to use it for protection or whatever other purposes they may have.
With a clouded origin and application, everyone in the modern age is free to apply their meaning and use to the Eye of Horus. This can be done even though modern Egyptians do not hold to the ancient myths or use the Eye in their daily lives.
With the dangers that lie in the world, both ancient and modern, it is not surprisingly that some people do turn to the Eye of Horus. They do this to find peace of mind and a safe haven from harm.
Written by – David Tee - AncientPages.com Staff Writer
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Expand for references
Platt, E.E., “Bone Pendants”, (1978). Biblical Archaeologist, 41.
Stern, E. “What Happened to the Cult Figurines? Israelite Religion Purified After the Exile”, (1989). BAR, 15(4).
Ulmar, R.B.K., (2003), “The Divine Eye in Ancient Egypt and in the Midrashic Interpretation of Formative Judaism”, Journal of Religion and Society, vol. 5 pgs. 1-17.
Rivka B. Kern Ulmer - The Divine Eye in Ancient Egypt and in the Midrashic
Interpretation of Formative Judaism, Bucknell University