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Eye of Horus, An ancient and powerful symbol
The Eye of Horus is one of the most famous symbols of ancient Egypt.
Also known as Udjat, this magical symbol is supposed to offer protection, health and rejuvenation. Because of its powerful protective powers, the Udjat was popularly used as amulets by ancient Egyptians, both living and dead. Even today, the Eye of Horus continues to be used as a symbol of protection.
The Dramatic Origins of the Udjat – A Story of Betrayal and Murder
The origin of the Udjat can be found in the myth of Seth and Osiris. The ancient Egyptians considered Osiris as the king of Egypt and that his brother Seth wanted his throne. By trickery, Seth succeeded in murdering his brother and became the new king. Osiris’ wife, Isis, however, managed to bring her husband back to life temporarily by magic and became pregnant with Horus.
A rare sample of Egyptian terracotta sculpture depicts Isis in mourning for Osiris. The sculpture depicts a woman raising her right arm above her head, a typical gesture of mourning.
The cost of revenge and the gift of healing the Eye of Horus
Osiris became the god of the underworld and Isis raised Horus on his own. When Horus reached adulthood, he sought revenge for his father’s death. Horus fought Set in a series of battles, and finally defeated his uncle. During these struggles, however, he lost one of his eyes. According to one version of the myth, Seth had ripped Horus’ eye out, ripped it into six parts and threw it away. In another version, Horus himself was the one who gouged his eye out, as a sacrifice to bring his father back from the dead. In any case, Horus’ lost eye was magically restored either by Hathor (often considered as Horus’ wife) or by Thoth, the god of wisdom.
As Horus’ eye has been magically restored, the ancient Egyptians believed that it had healing properties. The amulets of this symbol were made from a variety of materials, including gold, lapis lazuli and cornelian, and were used as jewellery by both the living and the dead.
Eye of Horus: magical mathematical symbol?
It is interesting to note that the Eye of Horus is not only a magical symbol, but also an example of the mathematical knowledge acquired by the ancient Egyptians. In the myth mentioned above, Set tore Horus’ eye into six parts. As a symbol, the Udjat contains six parts. Each of them received a fraction as a unit of measurement – the right side of the eye is 1/2, the pupil 1/4, the eyebrow 1/8, the left side of the eye 1/16, the curved tail 1/32 and the tear 1/64. These fractions total 63/64, and it is said that the missing part represents either Thoth’s magical powers or that it illustrates that nothing is perfect.
In ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic spelling, isolated parts of the symbol “Horus’ Eye” were supposed to be used to write various fractions.
Meanings of the parts of the Eye of Horus
Each of the six parts of the Udjat corresponds to a different meaning.
- The right side of the eye is associated with the sense of smell, because it is closest to the nose and resembles this organ.
- Needless to say, the pupil represents the sense of sight, while the eyebrow represents thought, because it can be used to express our thoughts.
- The left side of the eye represents the sense of hearing, because it points towards the ear and has the shape of a musical instrument.
- The curved tail looks like a germ of a wheat stalk or a seed planted.
As a representation of food, this part of the Eye of Horus corresponds to the sense of taste. Finally, the tear is supposed to represent the sense of touch, because this part of the eye represents a rod planted in the ground, an act that involves physical contact and touch.
How the Udjat used today?
Although the ancient Egyptian civilization has come to an end, the belief in the power of the Eye of Horus has continued and this symbol is still used by many today. For example, in Mediterranean countries, fishermen often painted this symbol on their boats to protect themselves. In addition, many people still wear the Udjat as a jewel, to protect themselves from the unwillingness of others. Moreover, the Eye of Horus is popular among occultists and conspiracy theorists, who consider it not only as a protective symbol, but also as a symbol of power, knowledge and illusion.