The striking Origin Story: A Tale of Murder and Revenge
The dramatic origin story of this ancient symbol may be encountered in the myth of Osiris and Seth. According to ancient Egyptian mythology, Osiris was the king of Egypt, and Seth was his brother who desired the throne. Using his by-born talent, trick, and deception, Seth succeeded to murder Osiris and claimed the kingship.
However, Isis, the ancient Egyptian goddess and the wife of Osiris, managed to bring the dead king to life through her magic temporarily. Though Osiris couldn’t become fully alive, he became the lord of the afterlife and fathered the falcon-headed god Horus. Ancient Egyptians considered the living Pharaoh human form of Horus, and the dead Pharaoh was Osiris’s human form.
|From the left: Osiris, Anubis, Horus (source: Wikimedia Commons)|
After fathering Horus, Osiris became busy with his duty as the lord of the underworld, and Isis raised their son by herself. After reaching adulthood, the falcon-god Horus attempted to take revenge for the death of his father. After fighting a series of battles with his uncle, Horus finally beat out Seth. However, these struggles cost Horus one of his eyes.
There are more than one myths regarding what happened to Horus’s eye. In one of them, Horus gouged out his own eye as a sacrifice to resurrect his father from death. In another legend, it was Seth who ripped out the eye of Horus and tore it up into 6 pieces before throwing it away.
In any case, the lost eye of the Falcon-God was magically restituted either by the god of wisdom, Thoth; or by Hathor, the aboriginal goddess of Egypt.
The ancient Egyptians believed that Horus’s eye possessed healing powers. Talismans featuring this magical symbol were used as pieces of jewelry for both living and dead. The talismans or amulets were made by using various materials such as lapis lazuli, gold, ruby, and cornelian.
Is the Eye of Horus a Mathematical Symbol as well?
It is interesting that the Horus’s eye isn’t only a magical symbol with healing powers; it also represents the mathematical knowledge of the ancient Egyptians. It was mentioned before that Seth tore the Eye of Horus into 6 parts, and, as it happens, the symbol has 6 separate parts. Every part of the eye was given a particular fractional unit of measurement. The teardrop is 1/64, the crooked tail 1/32, the left side 1/16, the right side ½, eyebrow1/8, and the pupil ¼. All these fractions determine the sum of 63/64. The missing 1 suggests either Thoth’s magical powers or illustrates that “nothing in this world is perfect.”
|In ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system, disjunct parts of the “Eye of Horus” symbol were believed to be used to write various fractions. (Attribution: Benoît Stella alias BenduKiwi / CC BY-SA 2.5 )|
Each Part Has a Distinctive Meaning:
The Eye of Horus in Modern-day Culture:
We all know that the ancient Egyptian civilization ended thousands of years ago, the Eye of Horus is still being used today, and many still believe in the power of this magical symbol. Fishermen in many Mediterranean countries often paint the Eye of Horus on their fishing boats for diving protection.
Many still wear jewelry featuring this symbol, as a protection from the supernatural harms and the ill-will of other people. It is also popular among conspiracy theorists, as well as occultists. In the modern days, apart from only as a protective symbol, many view it as a symbol of knowledge, power, and illusion. Not to mention, many people see it as an evil sign associated with satan and black magic.
In any case, it is safe to say that The Eye of Horus is one of the most popular and recognized symbols even today, and its use will continue for a long time in the future.