The Many Faces of Ma’at

She is called “the goddess Ma’at”, but in reality, Ma’at is more of a concept than a deity. Ma’at is justice; she is truth. She represents order, balance, harmony. She is found in wisdom and in beauty.

Although Ma’at comes from the Egyptian culture, the concepts she represents can be found throughout civilization in many different mythologies and many different guises. Ma’at can be known by many other names. She may wear many different faces.

One of the reasons why I have always shied away from Egyptian mythology in the past is because of the overwhelming confusion among the names of the gods and goddesses. So many stories share similar aspects and yet originate with so many different deities. Now, in undertaking this project, I simply have to reconcile myself to the fact that there will be confusion, that different sources will refer to gods and goddesses in different ways, and that — at the heart of the matter — it’s not the name or a single face that is important. It is the concept.

That said, I want to take a moment to share a few of the many faces of Ma’at which I have found in my spiritual explorations.

themisFirst, there is Themis, the Greek goddess called “The Lady of good counsel.” She is seen as the personification of divine order, fairness, law, and “that which is put in its place”. Her name means divine law. 

Her symbol is the scale, and like our “Lady Justice”, she was often portrayed holding a sword — to cut fact from fiction — and wearing a blind-fold.

It was believed that Themis had the power to foresee the future, and she became known as one of the Oracles of Delphi.

thmeiShe is also known as “Th’me” or “Thmei”, meaning — according to the Masonic dictionary — integritas, or “justice and truth”. In the research I’ve done, it appears that “Th’me” was a later expression of the earlier Greco-Egyptian concepts represented by Themis and Ma’at, evolving from the “Coptic” era or ancient Egypt.

There is a belief that “Th’me” is the root for the word Thummim, which we find in the Bible as a stone used in part for divination.

The “Urim and Thummim” were a means by which the guilt or innocence of an accused person could be determined.

For me, yet another “face” for Ma’at comes from these words: “…the seat of Justice between the Pillars.” Immediately this brings the vision of Tarot’s “High Priestess” to my mind. 2017-01-25-2

This card symbolizes the principles of “the divine feminine”, and is sometimes said to be the Goddess Isis, or Hathor, or the Virgin Mary.

Although the mythologies can be confusing, I’ve chosen to follow Ma’at precepts of order by viewing all of these different faces of the goddess as one and the same, an inviolable concept which has transcended the boundaries of time and space to become a necessary part of every civilized society upon the earth.

Whether we choose to see Themis, Ma’at, Th’me, or any other expression of wisdom and justice, the simple fact remains that we do need order, balance, and harmony in our world. We need the truth she represents regardless of which face she may be wearing.

 

 

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