Also referred to as the Eye of Re or Rah, the iconic Ancient Egyptian Eye of Ra is a mystic symbol found in ancient Egypt’s artwork, carvings, and hieroglyphs. It was believed that everyone felt the presence of the eye, and that it could see everything.
The ‘eye of Ra’ represents the sun and is often depicted as an aggressor and a violent power that represents the destructive side of a sun god.
This article will describe the meaning and symbolism of the eye of Ra, why it was vital in ancient Egypt, and how it’s different from the Eye of Horus.
Let’s Dive In.
Ra was one of the first gods in the Ancient Egyptian culture, known as the god of the sun. The existence of Ra dates back over 5,000 years ago. The sun took on a HUGE significance in early Egyptian culture. Ancient Egyptians believed it was the source of life (it is) and the worlds essential source of both light and warmth.
Two things we should probably all be thankful for.
Given the sun’s amplified status in human life, it was only natural that ancient Egypt would make it a point to give thanks and express religious praise.
Indeed, Ancient Egyptians began adoring the sun in the form of a god, Ra.
The Sun God Ra
To understand the existence of the Eye of Ra, we must first tell you about Ra, the eye’s “owner.”
Ra (sometimes Re) is an Egyptian word meaning the sun. To the mighty Egyptians, Ra was the influence of all generations, the author of life, the father of all the other gods, the Pharaoh’s patron, and the origin of all known and unknown.
Think about it, if the sun went out today …How important would everything else in your life be?
This is why the Egyptians saw Ra as the most important god.
Ra was considered the god of the sun. He embodied an immense and indivisible solar deity and symbolized everything in the sun’s domain— from light to fire, earth, vegetation, and the seasons. He was the producer of life, growth, healing, vitality, daylight, and prosperity.
Ra became so popular and influential that the ancient Egyptians worshiped the sun god Ra by dedicating majestic altars and sun temples in his honor.
It is even argued that the monumental pyramids in Egypt are connected with the sun god. Mythological beliefs suggest that they replicate the rays that extend from the sun.
Egyptians symbolism states that Ra sailed his boat across the sky every dawn and returned to the underworld in the evening. But, the goddess of mystery and night, would swallow Ra every evening, and he would be reborn in the morning. The evening trip symbolized becoming strong while returning to the underworld meant becoming weak.
As legend has it, when Ra began losing his power he became upset that he was no longer respected and decided to send his daughter, the Eye of Ra, to earth to punish those who are disrespectful.
The story of the daughter of Ra is a rather interesting one.
The Eye of Ra was concidered the embodiment of Ra’s daughter. An ancient Egyptian myth suggests that Ra sent her to earth to punish the disrespectful humankind.
Ra would regret this idea later when he watched his daughter abuse her power. She rampaged out of control, and her actions turned out to be a massacre of humanity.
The sun god Ra feared that the eye would end the human race and begged her to stop. However, the Eye of Ra lusted for blood and became difficult to control.
So, to rein her in, Ra coined a plan.
He poured jugs of beer mixed with pomegranate juice (to stain the beer red) in the fields and tricked the eye into drinking it, thinking it was blood. The Eye of Ra got drunk and passed out for three days only to return to Ra having learned her lesson as a calmed and more subdued goddess.
From this benevolent story came the belief in the Eye of Ra.
The ‘Eye of Ra’ is among the most ubiquitous and well-loved symbols in ancient Egyptian culture. Its origin story has roots in hate, protection, vengeance, fury, strength, violence, and power.
Ancient Egyptian lores and legends bear a boatload of stories about the origin of the Eye of Ra.
We’ve already learned of the most benevolent myth above—that the Eye of Ra was the sun god Ra’s aggressive daughter brought to earth for vengeance against humanity.
In yet another dramatic myth, Ra’s children disappear after setting out for an adventure. Ra removes his eye and sends it out to look for them, only for the eye to come back with the children and find that another eye has grown in its place.
Enraged and envious of having her position stolen. Ra’s eye threw a fit. To appease her, Ra turned her into a “uraeus” and wore it on his forehead to stand guard.
The uraeus is an Ancient Egyptian Symbol depectied in the form of two cobras wrapped around a sun disk, which represents the Eye of Ra.
According to ancient Egyptian myths, the Eye of Ra symbol was the female counterpart (mother, daughter, sister, and companion) of the sun god Ra. It embodied female divinity, and Egyptians viewed various goddesses such as Bastet, Hathor, Mut, Sekhmet, and Wadjet as personifications of the symbol.
The Eye Of Ra And Goddess Wadjet
Wadjet, was one of the Egyptian goddesses that personified the ‘ Eye of Ra’ symbol.
The goddess Wadjet is connected to the Eye of Ra in a few different way. First, Egyptian mythology describes the goddess Wadjet as the daughter of God Atum (Atum would later be known as Ra).
In fact, Goddess Wadjet is depicted as the eye that Ra sent to search for his lost children and bestowed honor upon her by placing her on his forehead, making her a protector of kings in cobra form (the Uraeus Symbol).
Wadjet also presents as the living form of the Uraeus symbol, the sun disk seen rearing from a Pharaoh’s forehead. The uraeus symbol (which is symbolic of the Eye of Ra) was believed to be a forceful defender of the Pharaohs and protected the rulers by spitting fire on enemies.
Other times, ancient Egyptians referred to the Eye of Ra simply as Wadjet or the Eye of Wadjet. The ancient Goddess Wadjet is revered as a children’s protector, goddess of childbirth, and protector of Egyptian rulers, playing the role of the Eye of Ra.
If you’re considering wearing the ‘Eye of Ra’ as a lucky charm, or getting an eye of Ra tattoo read on!
1. Eye Of Ra: Power
The Eye of Ra symbol became a powerful amulet, souvenir, and body marking for Egyptians to ward off evil entities or negative energy spells and restore balance.
It is considered so powerful that we are advised to be careful when invoking its energy as its destructive power can become overwhelming and violent.
2. Eye of Ra: Fertility And Birth
This eye goddess embodied female divinity for Egyptians. She took on the role of Ra’s mother and companion, roles that stand for femininity, procreation, childbirth, mothering, and fertility.
And as Ra’s constant companion, the Eye of Ra also helped in life-giving duties.
3. Eye of Ra: Great Power And Strength
The Eye of Ra was powerful and protective. But Egyptians also acknowledged that it possessed an aggressive and destructive force. These attributes equate the eye to the useful yet fierce heat of the sun.
It was a friend because it represented life on earth and people relied on its power. However, it could quickly become an enemy to humans, the lands (take the deserts, for instance), and even other deities.
4. Eye of Ra: A Symbol Of Protection
Ra transformed the Eye of Ra into a fearsome goddess and a violent, dangerous deity he considered vital for offering protection to his people, children, and rulers alike.
These vital roles signified divine protection for anyone who wore the Eye of Ra symbol, including Pharaohs who used it as a weapon against perceived enemies.
Even today, the Eye of Ra is worn as a good luck charm, drawn on clothing pieces, tattoo designs, pendants, or caps.
5. Is The Eye Of Ra Evil ?
Many of us would argue that the Eye of Ra is an evil and destructive emblem. It couldn’t be further from the truth!
The dangerous attributes of this emblem were celebrated in Ancient Egypt. The comforting aspects of the Eye of Ra signified power and invoked the protection of the divine. As such, the symbol isn’t evil; instead, it repels evil.
As a symbol of protection, it protects you from evil elements and enemies, but it doesn’t represent evil itself. In fact, it was thought to balance energies and create harmony in ancient Egyptian cultures.
The Difference Between The Eye Of Horus And Ra
Both the Eye of Horus and Eye of Ra are popular ancient Egyptian symbols and are often used interchangeably in Ancient Egyptian belief systems. They also look pretty much alike, and because of these, the two emblems are easily confused.
But you can easily distinguish between the Eye of Horus and Ra. They have varying origin stories, symbolisms, and the eyes linked with them.
This section will let you in on the major differences between the two emblems so you’ll never confuse them again.
The Eye of Horus, also known as the Egyptian eye, is the left eye (the eye located on your right-hand side if you view Horus from the front). The Eye of Horus is linked to the moon and represents sacrifice, fertility, wisdom, health, healing, and protection.
He was depicted in various physical forms, including the falcon and human that combined in syncretism to create a new being.
The right eye always symbolizes the Eye of Ra (the eye located on your left side if you view Ra from the front). The Eye of Ra is usually associated with the sun. It signifies life-giving power, fertility, aggression, and destruction.
The Eye Of Ra was the powerful deity who offered protection by instilling fear of violence. The Eye of Ra’s long history and the symbolism made it a protective talisman that kept guard against evil and blocked harm for Egyptians in the Pharaoh era.
Some new agers also believe in its good luck charm, making the symbol popular among fashion designers.
Would you wear an amulet of the Eye of Ra?
Check Out Our Other Interesting Articles About Ancient Egypt…
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- What Is The Egyptian Eye Of Ra ? Symbolism Explained
- The Eye of Horus vs. The Eye of Ra | Meaning
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