|Ma'at: Order and truth by XangelinfinityX from The Art of XangelinfinityX on deviantART|
Ma'at or Mayet, is the Egyptian Goddess who regulates all things, bringing order to the universe. She embodies truth, balance, order, and justice. She directs the stars and the actions of the Gods. She informs humanity of the right way of being. She weighs the souls of the dead to see if they have lived lives of rightness. The earliest written records of Ma'at date from the 3rd millenia BCE and describe Her as settings the norms for both nature and social structure. She had many different titles, which reflect the esteem in which She was held and Her importance to all Egyptian society. Some of these titles include :
Ma'at the Beautiful
Directress of the Underworld
Tracer of the Course of the Sun
Lady of the Hall of Judgment
Sustainer of the Sun
Lady of the Heavens Queen of Earth
The Measure of the Heart
Ma'at was the center of Egyptian social structure in so many ways. Their culture emphasized the order and harmony of the universe and the thread than ran through their philosophy was one of an intrinsic link between the rightness of people's actions and the balance of life and nature. Pharaohs from the earliest periods often named themselves "Lord of Ma'at" or "Beloved of Ma'at" to show the people that Ma'at was in their heart and their words were of Ma'at. For it was known that an impious king, one who manifested Isfet: chaos, lies, and violence, could cause disasters to strike his people. The correct public and religious life that was part of the unity of things was essential in all aspects of behavior - for both monarch and the everyday person.
Little is known of Egyptian laws, but one thing that is quite telling is that from the 5th dynasty onward the Vizier, who was responsible for the administering of justice and overseeing of the law, was High Priest of Ma'at. In later times, it has been recorded that judges wore masks in the likeness of Ma'at when acting in their official capacity. It is also interesting to note that during the time when Egyptians ran their own kingdom, women had much greater rights and could act with much more autonomy than they could under both later Greek and Roman rule.
|Statue of the Goddess Ma'at dating from the early Ptolemaic Period (305-330 BCE), Egyptian Museum|
One of Ma'at's best known roles is as Judge of the Dead. In Duat, the Egyptian underworld, the dead would come to have their souls weighed against the Feather of Ma'at. Those that lived lives of goodness and right action were allowed to continue on to Aaru, The Field of Reeds, where Osiris would welcome them into blissful eternity. Those who did not measure up had their hearts devoured by the goddess Ammit, who was shown in the semblance of a lioness in Egyptian tomb art depicting this scene, thereby suffering a second, permanent death. One of the things most commonly found in Egyptian tombs of any period and of any station of person are the Forty-Two Declarations of Purity, which were the statements said by the deceased before their heart was weighed under the supervision of Anubis. These statements summed up the ideals of a life of Ma'at and are part of Book of Coming Forth by Day, also known as The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Hail to you, great God, Lord of Justice! I have come to you, my lord, that you may bring me so that I may see your beauty, for I know you and I know your name, and I know the names of the forty-two gods of those who are with you in this Hall of Justice, who live on those who cherish evil and who gulp down their blood on that day of the reckoning of characters in the presence of Wennefer. Behold the double son of the Songstresses; Lord of Truth is your name. Behold I have come to you, I have brought you truth, I have repelled falsehood for you.
I have not done falsehood against men, I have not impoverished my associates, I have done no wrong in the Place of Truth, I have not learnt that which is not, I have done no evil, I have not daily made labor in excess of what was to be done for me, my name has not reached the offices of those who control slaves, I have not deprived the orphan of his property, I have not done what the gods detest, I have not slandered a servant to his master, I have not caused pain, I have not made hungry, I have not made to weep, I have not killed, I have not turned anyone over to a killer, I have not caused anyone¹s suffering, I have not diminished the food-offerings in the temples, I have not debased the offering cakes of the gods.
I have not taken the cakes of the blessed, I have not copulated illicitly, I have not been unchaste, I have not increased nor diminished the measure, I have not diminished the palm, I have not encroached upon fields, I have not added to the balance weights, I have not tempered with the plumb bob of the balance. I have not taken milk from a child¹s mouth, I have not driven small cattle from their herbage, I have not snared birds for the gods¹ harpoon barbs, I have not caught fish of their lagoons, I have not stopped the flow of water in its seasons. I have not built a dam against flowing water, I have not quenched a fire in its time. I have not failed to observe the days for haunches of meat. I have not kept cattle away from the God¹s property, I have not blocked the God at his processions.
I am Pure. I am pure. I am pure. I am pure. My purity is the purity of this great Phoenix that is in Heracleopolis, because I am indeed the nose of the Lord of Wind who made all men live on that day of completing the Sacred Eye in Heliopolis in the 2nd month of winter last day, in the presence of the lord of this land. I am he who saw the completion of the Sacred Eye in Heliopolis, and nothing evil shall come into being against me in this land in this Hall of Justice, because I know the names of these gods who are in it.
Hail Far-strider who came forth from Heliopolis, I have done no falsehood.
Hail Fire-embracer who came forth from Kheraha, I have not robbed.
Hail Nosey who came forth from Hermopolis, I have not been rapacious.
Hail Swallower of shades who came forth from the cavern, I have not stolen.
Hail Dangerous One who came forth from Rosetjau, I have not killed men.
Hail Double Lion who came forth from the sky, I have not destroyed food-supplies.
Hail Fiery Eyes who came forth from Letopolis, I have done no crookedness.
Hail Flame which came forth backwards, I have not stolen the god¹s offerings.
Hail Bone-breaker who came forth from Heracleopolis, I have not told lies.
Hail Green of Flame who came forth from Memphis, I have no taken food.
Hail You of the cavern who came forth from the West, I have not been sullen.
Hail White of teeth who came forth from the Faiyum, I have not transgressed.
Hail Blood-eater who came forth from the shambles, I have not killed a sacred bull.
Hail Eater of entrails who came forth from the House of Thirty, I have not committed perjury.
Hail Lord of Truth who came forth from Maaty, I have not stolen bread.
Hail Wanderer who came forth from Bubastis, I have not eavesdropped.
Hail Pale One who came forth from Heliopolis, I have not babbled.
Hail Doubly evil who came forth from Andjet, I have not disputed except concerning my own property.
Hail Wememty-snake who came forth from the place of execution, I have not fornicated with a child.
Hail You who see whom you bring who came forth from the House of Min, I have not misbehaved.
Hail You who are over the Old One who came forth from Imau, I have not made terror.
Hail Demolisher who came forth from Xois, I have not transgressed.
Hail Disturber who came forth from Weryt, I have not been hot-tempered.
Hail Youth who came forth from the Heliopolitan nome, I have not been deaf to words of truth.
Hail Foreteller who came forth from Wenes, I have not made disturbance.
Hail You of the altar who came forth from the secret place, I have not hoodwinked.
Hail You whose face is behind him who came forth from the Cavern of Wrong, I have neither misconducted myself nor copulated with a boy.
Hail Hot-foot who came forth from the dusk, I have not been neglectful.
Hail You of the darkness who came forth from the darkness, I have not been quarrelsome.
Hail Bringer of your offering who came forth from Sais, I have not been unduly active.
Hail Owner of faces who came forth from Nedjefet, I have not been impatient.
Hail Accuser who came forth from Wetjenet, I have not transgressed my nature, I have not washed out the picture of a god.
Hail Owner of horns who came forth from Asyut, I have not been voluble in speech.
Hail Nefertum who came forth from Memphis, I have done no wrong, I have seen no evil.
Hail Tempsep who came forth from Busiris, I have not made conjuration against the king.
Hail You who acted according to your will, who came forth from Tjebu, I have not waded in water.
Hail Water-smiter who came forth from the Abyss, I have not been loud-voiced.
Hail Prosperer of the common folk who came forth from your house, I have not reviled mankind.
Hail Bestower of good who came forth from the Harpoon nome, I have not been puffed up.
Hail Bestower of powers who came forth from the City, I have not made distinctions for myself.
Hail Serpent with raised head, who came forth from the cavern, I am not wealthy except with my own property.
Hail Carrier-off of His Portion who came forth from the Silent Land, I have not blasphemed God in my city.