Whenever we think of Ancient Egypt, the first things that come to mind are the pyramids, the pharaohs, mummies, Amon Ra, the Nile… Even though this cradle of civilization still hides many mysteries, there are also some things that are in plain sight if we just want to learn a little bit more about this culture and if we are ready to acknowledge that these people were much more advanced in certain aspects of their lives in comparison to us today. Such is the aspect of gender roles. In Ancient Egypt, women enjoyed equal rights as men under the law. That is reflected in their art, religion, politics and social customs, as well. In their reliefs, paintings, sculptures, inscriptions man and woman are represented as equals, supporting each other and doing chores and leisure activities together. Nefertiti, Hatshepsut and Cleopatra are some of the female pharaohs that ruled Ancient Egypt. Not only were they rulers, women in Ancient Egypt played an important role in religion, as priestesses, but also as teachers and physicians.
Obviously, religion and spirituality were an essential part of the lives of ancient Egyptians, their customs and rituals. Their religion was polytheistic, represented by both male and female deities. It was common for them to be paired, commonly representing opposing aspects, like for example Isis (Egyptian Aset or Eset), the goddess of fertility and Osiris, the god of the underworld. Another example is Nut, goddess of the sky, vault of the heavens, and the earth god Geb. One of the goddesses that stands out to me is Ma’at. She is a representation of justice, order, balance, harmony, reciprocity, truth. Ma’at’s counterpart is the male deity Thoth, the god of wisdom, but also science, religion, philosophy, and magic. Ma’at and Thoth ruled these areas side by side, as equally important and complementary. Fast forward to modern times, when we are facing disparities, inequalities, intersectional discrimination. Even though we have these principles in the constitutions and laws, their implementation in some segments is still lacking. What each one of us can do to alter the state of disbalance is first to try and find it within ourselves, and radiate with calmness and strength, resisting the outside influences that try to derail us from our goals. And our goals should always be just and strive towards harmony with oneself, the others, nature and the universe, because the world is merely a mirror, a reflection of our thoughts, feelings and actions.
At the end, what we receive is equal to what we give, so the initial spark should always come from within, outwards.
Author: Vera Martinoska