Back to Home Page or Contents Page or Divination or Index

Eye of Horus


The Eye of Horus was one of the most common amulets of ancient Egypt. This highly stylized eye of the falcon-head, solar and sky god Horus (the Latin version of Hor) is associated with regeneration, health, and prosperity. Also is has become associated with the esoteric and the occult. Another name for the eye is udjat or utchat, meaning "sound eye."

Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, was called "Horus who rules with two eyes." His right eye was white representing the sun while his left eye was black representing the moon. According to Egyptian legend Horus lost his left eye during a fight with his murderous uncle, Seth, to revenged his father's death. Seth tore out his nephew's eye but lost the fight because the assembly of the gods declared Horus the victor. The eye was reassembled by the magic of Thoth. Then Horus gave the eye to Osiris who experienced rebirth in the underworld.

As an amulet the Eye of Horus has three versions: a left eye, a right eye, and two eyes. The eye is constructed in fractional parts, with 1/64 missing, a piece that Thoth added with magic. The Eye of Horus is depicted as a human eye embellished with a typical Egyptian cosmetic extension and subtended by the markings of a falcon's cheek. The symbol of modern pharmacies and prescriptions, Rx, is derived from the three pieces of the Eye of Horus.

In ancient Egypt the eye was used as a funeral amulet as protection against evil and rebirth in the underworld, and for decorating mummies, coffins, and tombs. The Book of the Dead instructs that funerary eye amulets be made out of lapis lazuli or a stone called mak; some were gold-plated.

When worn as jewelry fashioned of gold, silver, lapis, wood, porcelain, or carnelian the eye served to ensure safety, protect health, and provide the wearer with wisdom and prosperity; it was called the "all-seeing Eye." Other attributes associated with it are terror and wrath; some myths tell that the eye seems to assume a personality of its own, swooping down from the sky to right wrongs. The latter attributes appear to come from the legend that after the eye was torn out by Seth, it was restored by Isis, and thence symbolized security of kingship, perfection and protection against the evil influence of Seth. A.G.H.


Sources:

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, Harper's Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience, New York: HarperCollins, 1991, p. 197
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 107