You think about your life every day. But do you ever think about your life after your life? As a child of Egypt, it is your duty to think about the afterlife. Death can be pleasant. Or it can be horrible. You get to decide. The gods are always watching us, and if you don't keep them happy then you will be in danger of a terrible afterlife. I will teach you about these gods now. No, no, no need to thank me. I'm your father. I want you to remain safe.
Now, do not be overwhelmed. There are many gods out there. About 2,000, in fact. You only need to keep track of a few of them in day to day life. Soon, you will know them all. Polytheism is the belief in many gods. Our gods are not just up in the sky somewhere, listening to a prayer or two. They are very much down here on Earth with us. They walk among us. Even the pharaoh, the great leader of Egyptian people, is a god on Earth. That's why he controls our religion and our government. Of course, there are gods watching us who have more power than he. You do not need to learn all 2,000. Let me tell you about a few of the most important.
The first god is everywhere around us. He is in the air. He is in the heat. He is in the light of the day that make the crops rise around the river. Ra (or Re) is our sun god. That's why his pictures have a sun balanced on top of his head. Beneath the sun, he has the body of a man but the head of a falcon. He rides on boats across the sky, one for the morning and one for the evening. Ra had many different forms - sometimes he had the head of a falcon with the body of a man, sometimes he had the head of a ram. Sometimes he even appeared as a lion.
If you want your passage into death to be pleasant, there is one name you must not forget. Osiris is the god of death and resurrection. He is the ruler of the underworld. He used to be the king of all gods, but then his brother killed him. He rides in a boat and tends to all of the people who have died before us. People pray to Osiris to protect their dead loved ones. Yes, of course, he keeps an eye on Grandma. Though I do not think he will bring her back to life any time soon. She was not very important on Earth . . . but the soup she cooked was so delicious, he will probably want to keep her in the underworld with him.
How much does your soul weigh? Is it heavy with guilt? Or is it as light as a feather, untroubled by the sins of the world? I know a god who can answer that question for you. Anubis was the old god of the dead, but now he is a kind of judge who stands at the gates of the underworld. When you die, he places your soul on a scale and weighs it against a feather, seeing if they weighs the same. A light soul is a good soul. Anubis has the head of a jackal, those hound-like animals that sniff out our dead bodies. The fur on his head is as black as death . . . but it is also as black as the mud around the Nile River, which grows our crops. He can be good. He can be terrible. Can you hear him sniffing at the door at night? Is that sweat on your brow? I knew you ate that fruit! Confess now and maybe your soul will grow lighter for Anubis's scales.
I can see you are scared. We will speak of brighter things. Horus is the god of the sky. We call the pharaoh a living Horus because he is a god on Earth. He is the god of war and keeps you safe against evil. He has the head of a falcon, but no sun sits on top of his head. Just as the sky sees all, Horus can see everything. You will see the eye of Horus, a picture of an eye with a slash and a loop coming out of the bottom, in places of great power.
Do not worry. We can go over each god again so you will remember them. Ra is the god of the sun. Osiris is the god of death. Anubis is the god of judgement and will place your soul on a scale to see if it is as light as a feather. Lastly, Horus is the god of the sky. Do the gods scare you? Take this necklace with the eye of Horus on it. That should keep you protected . . . while you learn the all of the gods and what they do.
Ancient Egypt Online. "The Ancient Egyptian Gods" ancient-egypt-online.com, 2013. <http://www.ancient-egypt-online.com/ancient-egyptian-gods.html>
History for Kids. "Egyptian Gods - Who were the gods of Ancient Egypt?" historyforkids.org, 2011. <http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/egypt/religion/>