While many people think of destiny as predetermination, destiny can be also defined as the events an individual will experience in the future. The beliefs about destiny vary from culture to culture. Ancient Egyptians believed that the destiny of an individual was controlled by unseen forces and they felt a sense of dependency on these forces in their everyday lives.
The Gods Control Destiny
Surrounded by a wide, flat, life-endangering desert, and lacking significant technology of survival, the Egyptians felt a low level of control over their lives. Believing it would aid in their health and safety during their lives, they made specific prayers and offerings to the spirits of nature, which they believed had descended from the creator god to control the many aspects of human life. A name eventually became assigned for each of these aspects of life, and different characteristics were combined into one image of a god. Gods could take both human and animal forms.
Pleasing the Gods
Believing that the gods were in control of their destinies, ancient Egyptians took certain actions to please them. These included living with a "light" heart, which would ensure that, when their hearts were weighed in the ceremony after death, they would not be destroyed, and striving to do others no harm, according to the Book of the Dead.
Origins of their Belief of Destiny
The origins of their belief about destiny may have been their dependence on agriculture and their experience of the natural cycle of growth and decay. Egyptians might have once asked themselves questions such as, Why won't the crops grow?, When will it rain again? or When should we plant? They eventually became certain that unseen forces, uncontrollable by humans, were responsible for the continuity of life and death. For example, the Nile River continually flooded each year, and the sun travelled the same route each day, rising in the east each day and setting in the west.
Belief in Resurrection as Destiny
Resurrection was their most important belief, and the ancient Egyptians committed much time and effort to preparing for an existence to come. They believed that certain activities could control their afterlife. By preparing burial tombs or chambers well and, if they had the means, obtaining a burial location near a pharaoh or high-ranking member of society, they tried to increase their chances of being selected for the afterlife. Thus, the ancient Egyptians gave responsibility to a wide array of gods for the events of their lives and their deaths.
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