Ma’at; Goddess of Truth and Justice

Posted in Goddesses on May 24, 2008 – 7:43 pm
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To understand Ma’at, balance a feather on its tip in the palm of your hand.

Ma’at literally means “Truth” in Egyptian.  In Ancient Egypt, Ma’at was not
just a Goddess, but was a concept as well. The concept, Ma’at, was that which
all of the people of Egypt had to adhere to. From the lowliest of the peoples up
to the Pharaoh himself. And each class of people had a different amount of
responsibility to uphold the concept of Ma’at. The Pharaoh was the most
responsible because he was the ruler of all of Egypt, so he must be exemplary in
this matter. Whereas the poorest people who were struggling from day to day had
little to no responsibility towards upholding the laws of Ma’at, because they
had enough things to worry about. The concept of Ma’at, was why the Goddess
Ma�at was so important to the Egyptian culture.

The Goddess Ma�at was that which kept balance and order in the entire Universe!
Not just the people of Egypt, but everything in the heavens and the earth bowed
down to the rules of Ma�at. She was what controlled the seasons, she controlled
the water flowing in the oceans, and she controlled the circle of life among the
animals. She controlled life and death, and all that was. And she kept it all in
The story of Ma�at starts at the beginning of creation. When the God Ra settled
the waters of Nun (the gods of chaos), Ma�at was born. She was his daughter, and
yet she did not answer to Ra, he answered to her. Because she controlled the
entire Universe. And being the Goddess of balance, she is not only there at the
beginning of life, she is also there at the end.

Her greatest duty of all is that of judging those who die. When the Egyptians
died, they went to the Hall of Ma’at (double halls of truth). There they found
the Goddess Ma�at, with her scales and her Ostrich feather. The myth of this
event is somewhat confusing, because in some legends she is the Wife of Thoth,
who has the head of the Ibis, and he is the one who weights the heart of the
dead on her scales. Where as others say that she is the wife of Anubis, who has
the head of a Jackal, and it is he who weights the heart of the dead on her
scales. After the heart is placed on the scales, it is weighted against her
Ostrich feather. If the scales do not tip, then the heart is light and the
deceased may pass on to heaven. But if the scales tip towards the heart, then
they have not lived a life of Ma’at, and will be eaten by the demon Goddess,
Ammuti. This is where we get the phrases �light hearted� and �heavy hearted�.
Another important part of Ma�at�s legends are the 42 Admonitions of Ma�at. These
are 42 rules of how to live your life according to the concept of Ma’at. These
were written 1500 years before the Ten Commandments, and some scholars believe
that these are what inspired Moses to write the Ten Commandments. I see the 42
admonitions as much more detailed, and some more realistic in what makes a
person�s life balanced and just. Some of the admonitions include, �I have not
made anyone to weep�, �I have not turned the earth without cause�, �I have not
exploited the weakness of any man�, �I have not demanded undo praise for my
name�, and �I have not turned away from any god in fear or shame�. These are
principles of how to live your life in balance with man and nature.

Because of the Goddess Ma�at being both a Goddess of truth and justice, and a
concept of balance and order, she was the main icon of Judges and Courts. In
Egypt, the judges would wear a feather on their heads, and most of them were
also priests of Ma�at. The courts were often temples to Ma�at. Because of this,
when the Greek culture took over power, they used the word �Logos� for Ma’at.
Logos was what they used to judge a person�s life. In the bible, �Logos� was
used instead of �Word�, which was also another name for �Jesus�. John 1.1: �In
the beginning was the logos*, and the logos* was with God and the logos* was

The representation of the Goddess Ma�at was that of a teenage, winged girl.
Sometimes also depicted as twin girls. She always wears the Ostrich plume on her
head, and hold the scales in her hand when weighting the hearts of the dead. She
is wife to either Anubis or Thoth, and has no children of her own. She is a
Goddess of the Autumn Equinox, when day and night are of equal length, and when
the seasons are in the waning. Her name literally means �Truth�, and she is the
Goddess of truth, justice, balance and order. She is the Goddess for Libras. She
is the Goddess Themis in Greece and the Goddess Tiamat in Babylonia. She is
neither good nor evil, because nature needs both to exist, she is neutral.

Sources used for this report:
Invocation of the Gods; Ancient Egyptian Magic for Today by Ellen Cannon Reed


This entry was written by Kendra, filed under Goddesses and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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