The Mysterious Neterw (gods) of Egypt
Updated: Jan 25, 2021
The stony presence of the magnificent Great Pyramid towers over the silent, but equally awe-inspiring statue of the Sphinx, drawing millions to gaze upon them in wonder and humble admiration. Crumbling Temples with their beautiful carvings, statues, and graceful columns draw tourists, Egyptologists, archaeologists, scholars and metaphysical pilgrims alike. Tombs of long-dead Pharaohs & Queens invite us to marvel at the longevity and immensity of their reigns, still with us today – many millennia later. Why is this? What is there about Egypt that puzzles and fascinates us simultaneously?
It is the spiritual presence, still in existence, of that distant civilization of Ancient Egypt and their contact with and understanding of the Neterw.
Who and what are the Neterw? Neter (plural Neterw) is the ancient Egyptian word and hieroglyph that we moderns believe to mean God/Goddess. But the ancient Egyptians didn’t consider them strictly as gods. No, they thought of them, worked with them on a daily basis, lived their lives with the Neterw as representing elemental forces of the Universe, energy sources. Energy sources that existed in all forms of nature, from the tiniest atom to the largest galaxy, plants, animals, people, stone, and sand. But more importantly, the Neterw were Spiritual Principles that reigned absolute in the Universe. Unconditional love (embodied as Isis); regeneration and resurrection (as Osiris); spiritual guidance (as Anubis); physical manifestation (as Ptah); truth, harmony and balance (as Ma’at); and so on, through the long litany of over 2,000 recorded Neterw. Atum, the great unknowable, unfathomable, supreme creative force, governed as the chief Neter, from which all the rest of the Neterw were individual emanations.
Everything and every person, from the lowliest peasant to the Great Pharaoh, lived under the auspices of Ma’at – truth, harmony and balance – to create and maintain a stable and ethical civilization. Everyone (including Pharaoh) would be “judged” at death according to Ma’at’s “Feather of Truth” – to determine if her/his heart was “pure” and “light.” To the ancient Egyptians, the heart (ab) was the seat of wisdom.
Knowing that, even those Pharaohs like Ramses the Great who are thought to be megalomaniacs, are really only “servants” of the Neterw, doing their particular job within the framework of the greater whole. Ramses considered himself to be “chosen” by the Neter Sekhmet (Lion-headed goddess; creative and transforming force, destroying that which was unlike Ra – “life”). I think it seems likely that Ramses created so many huge monuments (Sekhmet never does anything small!) to serve not just himself, but to provide lasting evidence that we can still see, touch and intuit today – to bring the Neterw home to ourselves.
With that in mind, the “mystery” of Egypt comes alive, recognizable within all religions, ethics, morals and spiritual precepts that we hold dear today. No wonder that Egypt reigned for 3,000 years of recorded history (and even more millennia of unrecorded) with the Neterw as governing principles of their civilization. Little wonder, either, that we modern spiritual pilgrims are looking (and traveling) to Egypt more and more, without fully recognizing, but yet somehow sensing the “truth” of ancient Egypt’s existence.
The ancient Egyptians, then, weren’t idol worshipers of many strange figures of jackal-headed, lion-headed, or falcon-headed gods – but were worshiping the Principles that these statues represented. Many indigenous cultures, including our own Native Americans, seem to understand that animals could symbolize concepts and ideology (archetypes) beyond everyday comprehension and mundane language. Even nowadays we use animal imagery as part of our colloquial speech – such as “snake in the grass,” “wolf,” “chick,” “sly as a weasel,” “eagle eyes” and so on.
I’ve found that the Neterw make contact with people indirectly through statues or images, sometimes telepathic messages or visions, and plain old gut feelings. Sometimes a person will want an object to associate with a Neter (like an Isis pendant) without knowing why. Newly-activated (or ready to be activated) Egyptian seekers often seem to receive initial contact with the Neterw Isis and Anubis, perhaps because of these two Neterw’ deeply loving presence and spiritual guidance. Or perhaps it’s because these two are so easily recognizable as Egyptian. Regardless of the talisman sought or Neter involved, the eventual outcome appears to be primarily meant for us to connect with and expand the deeper spiritual energy within ourselves.
In ancient Egypt a Temple was built as “home of the Neter” – to bring the energy of a particular principle “home” to that site. Temples were carefully erected with sacred geometry in mind; established during certain auspicious astrological times; aligned with energies from particular stars and planets; and honoring those spiritual principles embodied at that place with that Neter. And -- most importantly – when visiting the Sacred Temple one could “feel” those principles at that Temple and “invoke” the energy of the Neter in order to stimulate spiritual growth within oneself; to activate and ultimately become each Neter. (These Temple energies are still active as many people who visit Egypt can attest to!) The Priesthood of a various temple consisted of those men and women who devoted their lives to that particular path. To honor a Neter would be to honor that principle within the Universe as well as within oneself.
Thus … ancient Egypt never truly died, but lives on and thrives today. And who are the mysterious Neterw? They are us.
Lauren O. Thyme is an ordained Priestess of Hathor, High Priestess of Sekhmet, spiritual pilgrim, channel, psychic, author and lecturer