In ancient Egyptian mythology, Ma’at was an important goddess in her role of representing truth and order. In the Egyptian language, the name “Ma’at” means truth. Ma’at’s role was to keep the universe from falling back into chaos, and in our world, this was achieved through law and ethical behaviour. Ancient Egyptians were expected to live by the principles of Ma’at, meaning they should be truthful and honorable in their manner and actions, and lead moral lives. After they died, the ancient Egyptians believed that they would go before Ma’at to have their heart weighed against her feather. If a person’s heart was as light as the feather, then they would be judged to have lived a truthful life, and they received eternal life. If, however, the heart was heavy and weighed down with evil, their soul was eaten by Ammut, the crocodile-headed god known as the Devourer of Souls.
Ma’at also maintained order in the greater universe. The universe came from chaos, and it was Ma’at who held that chaos at bay. She was said to govern the movement of the stars and the changing of the seasons. She also helped to guide the sun god Ra’s boat across the sky, thus ensuring a regular passage of both day and night.
Because Ma’at was a principle as well as a goddess, her presence can be seen throughout Ancient Egyptian culture. The principle of Ma’at was key to holding together Egypt’s diverse groups of people and the conflicting ideas they had. The spirit of Ma’at was applied to laws and justice, and much was written on how to best apply Ma’at to varied (but usually highly specific) social and professional situations. Ma’at’s influence in all aspects of Egyptian life made her a quietly powerful goddess.
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Girl Museum Inc.