The ancient Egyptian deity Ma’at is often referred to as a goddess but is more commonly considered to actually be an idea. Ma'at was said to be core to the conceptions of the universe's rules and in maintaining the balance and divine order in ancient Egypt. The name Ma’at represents that which is straight or truth and often stands for balance, order, and justice. Thus the goddess was the personification of order and harmony. She is said to have originated when Ra rose from the waters of Nun and thus she is often referred as the daughter of Ra. Also, some consider her to be the wife of the god of wisdom, Thoth.
More About Ma'at
In ancient Egypt Ma’at was represented as the goddess of truth, justice, divine order, cosmic order, and balance. She is represented with wings of the vulture which is her sacred animal and the feather of truth in her headdress. She is often shown carrying an ankh which is the key to life and sometimes she also holds a scepter. The presence of this goddess seems to have been since the old kingdom. She is often referred to as "the eye of Ra." Thoth is her equivalent husband and brother and Set is the opposite. The Goddess Ma'at was most cherished by the pharaohs and kings of ancient Egypt, and most of them were referred to as "Beloved of Ma'at." The Pharaoh would carry an effigy of Ma'at seated as a sign that he represented her regime.
Judges during the ancient Egyptian period wore an emblem of the goddess Ma’at on their chest and all Egyptians were urged to seek her blessing. Invoking the goddess is considered important for righting a wrong and to the help the truth and understanding emerge from any situation. Invoking Ma’at also helps in bringing a person to the beginning of the earth, finding common ground, balance and in embodying righteousness in their decisions and life.
Representations Of Ma’at
Ma’at was represented as a woman who wore a crown with a single ostrich feather in her headdress. She was often represented as a winged goddess. The totem was a stone platform which stood for the stable foundation on which order was constructed the primeval mount which is said to have first originated from the waters of Nun or chaos.
Role Of Ma'at
According to ancient Egyptian belief, after a person dies their soul was taken into the Hall of Double Justice by the god of wisdom, Thoth. Here there was the presence of others gods like the Lord of the Dead, Osiris. Also there were 42 assessors or judges of Ma’at accompanying. The heart which is touted to be the essence of any person is weighed here in the scales of justice with the feather from the headdress of Ma’at on the other side. For a person with a good life the scales will be balanced but for those who have committed a crime, the heart would weigh heavier after which the person's soul is eaten by the goddess Ammut. The balanced hearts were led to Osiris by Ma’at where they were allowed to join with the celestial gods for all eternity. Ma'at ruled over all 3 worlds; even the gods had to obey her rulings.