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42 Ideals of Ma'at
Ma’at is the goddess of truth, justice, divine order, cosmic order and balance. She is depicted with wings of a vulture, her special animal, and the feather of truth in her headdress. She also carries an ankh, the key of life, and sometimes a scepter. Ma’at can be traced as far back as the Old Kingdom. She is the daughter of Ra, sometimes even referred to as the “eye of Ra.” Her equivalent and husband is Thoth, and her opposite is her brother Set. The Goddess Ma’at was most cherished by the rulers of ancient Egypt, and most of them were referred to as “Beloved of Ma’at.” Pharaohs would carry an effigy of Ma’at seated as a sign that he represented her regime.of truth. She was the personification of the cosmic order and a representation of the stability of the universe.
Ancient Egyptian culture was centered on order, everything had its place in the world. This included religion, society and seasonal changes. Ma’at represents the concept of balance and order she was the one that kept the stars in motion, the seasons changing and the maintaining of the order of Heaven and Earth. The opposing force of this was known in ancient terms as “isfet” or chaos. Ancient Egyptians considered the desert beyond the Nile River to be chaotic; while the area close to the Nile was considered orderly. Together, these two forces brought balance to the world in which they lived and was an important part of everyday Egyptian life.
Ma’at is almost always shown wearing the feather of truth on top of her head. The feather came to be the hieroglyph “Shu” meaning truth. According to the Papyrus of Ani and The Book of Coming Forth (Book of the Dead) every person would be judged before Ma’at to determine whether they were truly good and able to move on to the afterlife. The feather was weighed against their soul while they stated these 42 Ideals.