Images and Pictures of Apep in Ancient Egyptian Art
The images and pictures of Apep, the Egyptian god of evil, chaos and destruction depicted the god as a giant snake in various forms of ancient Egyptian art such as tomb paintings, hieroglyphics and stone carvings. The ancient Egyptians were highly superstitious and feared that even the mention of his name would bring the unwanted attention of this evil god. This fear extended to creating images of Apep. Fearing that even an image of the god Apep could give power to the evil spirit, paintings and other depictions of Apep would always include another deity fighting to subdue the monster, or a scene in which the god had already been vanquished. The following picture of Apep features the evil god fighting against Atum (Atum-Ra), the sun creator god of the Ennead in Heliopolis.
Picture of the evil serpent god attacking Atum-Ra
Apep in Ancient Egyptian History
Apep represented a demonic obstacle to the daily resurrection of the sun. Occasionally he would be victorious in his battles with Ra the solar god and his entourage of gods, and the world would be plunged into darkness. The ancient Egyptians believed that these victories allowed storms, darkness, rain and the terrifying eclipse of the sun to occur. They believed that prayers, incantations and magic spell would help Ra and the gods in their endless nightly fight on their Sun Boat against Apep.
Picture of Hieroglyph of defeated Apep, under the water, after being attacked with knives
Apep in Ancient Egyptian History - The "Book of the Overthrowing of Apep"
Apep the evil destroyer was never worshipped, quite the reverse. Most temple rituals of ancient Egypt were aimed correcting chaos and restoring order to the world. Because Apep was immortal he was able to emerge unscathed from any defeats by the gods. It was therefore important to the Egyptians to offer prayers and spells to help the gods overcome Apep the evil serpent. The "Book of the Overthrowing of Apep" provided temple visitors with a spell for repelling negativity, which was symbolized by the solar god Ra defeating Apep. These rituals and incantations were enacted nightly by the priests and Egyptians and were thought to help ensure the victory of Ra in his life-and-death struggle with darkness.
Apep in Ancient Egyptian History - The "Banishing of Apep"
Each year, a dangerous ritual called the "Banishing of Apep" would be held by the priests of the sun god Ra. The "Books of Overthrowing Apep" provided the priests with details about the proper destruction of Apep and instructions were provided for:
- Spitting Upon Apep
- Defiling Apep with the Left Foot
- Taking a Lance to Smite Apep
- Fettering the god
- Taking a Knife to Smite Apep
- Putting Fire Upon Apep
The priests first created an effigy of the god of evil, chaos and destruction. The effigy was taken to the center of the sun temple and the priests would pray that all the evil and wickedness in Egypt would go into the effigy. The effigy of Apep would then be attacked and defiled. The priests spat on the effigy, beat it with sticks, hacked at it with weapons and eventually burned and destroyed it. The priests and the ancient Egyptians believed that this ritual would curtail the power and influence of Apep and banish him from Egypt for the forthcoming year. The acts of dishonoring, dismembering and disposing of the effigy were seen as important and dangerous duty of the ancient Egyptian priests and increased their power in Egypt.
Apep in Ancient Egyptian Mythology - The Great Cat
In ancient Egyptian mythology there are legends concerning the defeat of Apep by a great cat. The cat goddess Bastet represented both the home and the domestic cat but was also represented in the war-like aspect of a lioness, lynx or cheetah. Cat Goddesses were revered for both their powers of protection and their skills as fierce combatants. Mau and Bastet, both cat goddesses, were credited with killing the evil snake god Apep.
Cat goddess killing the evil snake god Apep
Apep in Ancient Egyptian History - Talismans and Amulets
The terrible serpent god was also seen as a potential barrier to the souls of the dead succeeding in their journey through the Underworld to the Afterlife. The priests therefore created various spells and provided protective amulets and talismans to defend the souls of the dead against Apep on their perilous journeys.