Ma'at The Goddess of
Truth & Integrity
The goddess Ma’at represents truth, integrity, and balance.
Ma’at bound all things together in an indestructible unity:
the universe, the natural world, the state, and the individual
were all seen as parts of the wider order generated by
Ma'at's White Feather of Truth
The Egyptians believed strongly that every individual was responsible for his or her own life and that life should be lived with other people and the earth in mind. In the same way that the gods cared for humanity, so should humans care for each other and the earth which they had been provided with. This philosophy is evident in every aspect of Egyptian culture from the way they constructed their cities to the balance and symmetry of their temples and monuments. If one lived harmoniously in the will of the gods, then one was living in harmony with the concept of ma'at and the goddess who embodied that concept. One was free to live however one wanted, of course, and completely ignore the principle of ma'at, but eventually one would face the trial which awaited everyone: judgment in the Hall of Truth (also known as The Hall of Two Truths) in the afterlife. Wilkinson comments on this:
Her role was multifaceted but embraced two major aspects. On the one hand, Ma'at represesnted the universal order or balance - including concepts such as truth and right - which was established at the time of creation. This aspect is the basis of her relationship with Ra - for she is the order imposed upon the cosmos created by the solar demiurge and as such is the guiding principle who accompanied the sun god at all times...As a natural corollary of her identity with right balance and harmony Ma'at also actively represented the concept of judgement. In the Pyramid Texts the goddess appears in this role in dual form as 'the two Ma'ats' judging the deceased king's right to the thrones of Geb [the rule of the earth] and in the later funerary literature it is in the Hall of the Two Truths (the dual form of Ma'at) that the judgment of the deceased occurs. The gods themselves, acting as the judges of the divine tribunal, are called 'the council of Ma'at.' (150)
To the Egyptians, the soul consisted of nine separate parts: the Khat was the physical body; the Ka one’s double-form; the Ba a human-headed bird aspect which could speed between earth and the heavens; Shuyet was the shadow self; Akh the immortal, transformed self; Sahu and Sechem aspects of the Akh; Ab was the heart, the source of good and evil; Ren was one’s secret name. All nine of these aspects were part of one's earthly existence. When one died, the Akh (with the Sahu and Sechem) appeared before the god Osiris in the Hall of Truth and in the presence of the Forty-Two Judges to have one's heart (Ab) weighed in the balance on a golden scale against Ma'at's white feather of truth.
Bunson, M. Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Gramercy Books, 1991.
David, R. Religion and Magic in Ancient Egypt. Penguin Books, 2003.
Pinch, G. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press, 2004.
Wilkinson, R. H. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, 2003.