Clergy Rituals for the Egyptian Gods

At the center of an Egyptian temple lies the inner chambers and in the middle a sanctuary which holds a statue of the god. Around the sanctuary lies smaller chambers holding lesser gods and companions to the main god. Only priests were allowed to enter these sacred spaces, the public were strictly forbidden.

The Egyptians worshiped many gods and goddesses believing they controlled the forces of the worlds; living and afterlife. The fundamental principle to the people was the fact that truth, justice and cosmic order needed to be maintained by sacrifices to the gods and offering constant worship. This would guarantee a successful journey through the afterlife.

Priests were highly respected and were appointed by the pharaohs. One must have been pure of heart and responsible. A priest in those times acted as a mediator between the king and the people and often performed ritual and also performed the duties of a judge. There were many types of priests who performed all different duties in those times. They were of course arranged in a hierarchy system. Only the high priest was allowed to enter the sanctuary with the god as they were considered the only one holy enough to do so.

Image source: Pinterest - sanctuary of Horus

They performed a number of rituals in this sanctuary. Lighting the morning fire consisted of lighting a fire in a brazier close to the god's shrine as a reenactment of the first appearance of the sun, this was thought to assist the sun god through his journey in the afterlife every night. The second important ritual of the high priest was to draw the bolt to the sanctuary where the statue of the god resided.

Everyday the priests would care for the statues of these gods. It was the high priest's duty to take care of the statue by cleaning them and dressing them in clean ceremonial clothing, even applying make up in some cases. They would anoint them with sacred oils and perfume also. Food and drink was prepared and left with the statue as an offering. After it was thought to be consumed or absorbed the offerings were taken from the room again and given to the other priests and temple staff. Sometimes these rituals were even performed on mummies by extracting them, cleaning and changing them and then placing them back in their tombs.

All of this took place inside sanctuaries where the public was not allowed to know what was going on. None of the Egyptian priest's work ever involved a daily or weekly religious service for the people. The people only ever came to the temples for financial, medical or emotional support. It was the duties of the other priest's to perform all of the other tasks involved with the running of the temples on a day to day basis. Most of the lesser valuable priests only worked on a part time basis going back to their normal lives every couple of months.

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