Mau in Egyptian Mythology - Personification of Ra and Enemy of Apep
Mau was the name of the cat regarded as representing, or embodying, the Sun God Ra that had the character traits and abilities of the deity. The Egyptian Tree of Life, identified with the Persea Tree, was guarded and protected by the Mau, the Great Cat. The sacred Persea tree of life first emerged when Ra Atum, the Sun-god, first appeared at Heliopolis. It played a part in the Creation Myth that explained how the nine gods who made up the Ennead of Heliopolis were created. The fruit of the Tree of Life gave eternal life and knowledge of the divine plan. Apep was the Egyptian god of evil, chaos and destruction and depicted as a giant snake or serpent.
Mau and the Battle with Apep
Apep threatened world and divine order and attempted to prevent Ra from bringing the sun into the sky each day. Apep, the monstrous serpent, was the deadly adversary of Ra. According to ancient Egyptian mythology Mau battled against Apep to prevent him from taking control of the Persea Tree of Life and the world. After many battles Mau finally defeated Apep and cut off the head of the serpent. The pictures depict this battle between good and evil and shows Mau killing the snake with the ancient Egyptian flint knife, called a Khop.
Ra as the cat Mau, the Persea Tree and Apep
Mau in Egyptian Mythology - The Book of the Dead
The Book of the Dead was a protective 'guide' and collection of 'spells' evolved from the ancient Pyramid texts and Coffin Texts. The ancient Egyptians believed that the content of the Book of the Dead texts would help them to reach the perfect afterlife and chose the texts and spells they thought would be of the most help to them on their perilous journey. The 'guide' explained how to address the gods of the Underworld correctly, protective spells and information to help them answer any questions about the mythology of the gods. In the Seventeenth Chapter of the Book of the Dead details how the sun god Ra takes on the form of a cat named "Mau" in order to kill the evil serpent Apep. The text reads:
"I am the cat (Mau), who fought hard by the Persea tree in Annu on the night when the foes of Neb-er-tcher (a form of Osiris) were destroyed", The male cat is Ra himself and he is called "Mau" because of the words of the god Sa,
who said about him, "who is like (mau) unto him?" and thus his name became "Mau" (cat)."
Mau and the Papyrus of Ani
The most famous Book of the Dead was commissioned by a scribe called Ani. In his Book of the Dead the text is used like a 'crib sheet' enabling him to demonstrate his knowledge of the creation myth and the mythology of the gods. The text reads:
Who is this Cat? "This male Cat is Ra himself, and he was called 'Mau' because of the speech of the god Sa, who said concerning him: 'He is like (mau) to that which he has made'; therefore, did the name of Ra become 'Mau.'
Failure to answer questions correctly could result in their soul to be given to Ammit the "devourer of the dead" or the "soul-eater". Ammit embodied the most terrifying animals known to the ancient Egyptians - the ferocious goddess was part-crocodile, part-lion, and part-hippopotamus.
Ammit, eater of souls
Facts about Mau in Egyptian Mythology
Discover interesting information and research facts about Mau, the Egyptian sun goddess of war. The facts about Mau provides a list detailing fascinating additional info to increase your knowledge about Mau in Egyptian Mythology.
History, Mythology and Facts about Mau
Fact 1: The mythology surrounding Mau was about good versus evil
Fact 2: Around 2000 BC Mau started to hold a great importance in religion and was worshiped as a god.
Fact 3: The Egyptian Mau is a breed of cat that has the distinction of being the only natural spotted breed of domestic cat
Fact 4: The most famous cults relating to cats were based at Leontopolis and Bubastis
Fact 5: Pet lions and big cats were kept by the kings and pharaohs of Egypt as symbols of the sun god Ra and Mau for their powers of protection and skills as fierce combatants
Fact 6:Mau was the ancient Egyptian word for cat