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Ma'at, Goddess of Truth, Balance & Order.

Ma'at seems to be more of a concept than an actual goddess. Her name, literally, meant 'truth' in Egyptian. She was truth, order, balance and justice personified. She was harmony, she was what was right, she was what things should be. It was thought that if Ma'at didn't exist, the universe would become chaos, once again!

For the Egyptian believed that the universe was above everything else an ordered and rational place. It functioned with predictability and regularity; the cycles of the universe always remained constant; in the moral sphere, purity was rewarded and sin was punished. Both morally and physically, the universe was in perfect balance.

Because of Ma'at, the Egyptians knew that the universe, that everything in the universe, worked on a pattern.

Egypt , then, was seen to be nothing without Ma'at.
Ma'at was reality, the solid grounding of reality that made the Sun rise, the stars shine, the river flood and mankind think. The universe itself, all the world around them, was sacred in the ancient view. "Ethics" is an issue of human will and human permission. It is a function of the human world of duality. What is "ethical" for one group is sin for another. But Ma'at, the reality that made all groups what they are is transcendent of ethics, just as a rock or a flower is amoral, a-ethical, without "truth or falsehood." How can a flower be "false" or "ethical." It just is. How can the universe be "ethical or moral, right or wrong"? It simply is. That is Ma'at.

Despite being a winged goddess, she was judge at the Egyptian underworld at the Halls of Ma'ati or Halls of the Double Ma'at. The dead person's heart was placed on a scale, balanced by Ma'at herself, or by the Feather of Ma'at (her symbol that she wore on her head was an ostrich feather). Thoth (god of writing and scribes) weighed the heart... if the deceased had been found to not have followed the concept of ma'at during his life (if he had lied or cheated or killed or done anything against ma'at) his heart was devoured by a demon (she was called Ammut - Devouress of the Dead) and he died the final death. If the heart weighed the same as Ma'at, the deceased was allowed to go on to the afterlife.

In life, it was the pharaohs' duty to uphold ma'at. "I have done Ma'at" has been spoken by several pharaohs, as well as being called "beloved of Ma'at".



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