Eye of Horus, Eye of Ra, Daughter of Ra, and Wadjet are just some of the names associated with the enigmatic symbol pictured above. Surely you’ve seen it, whether or not you have been to Egypt. It’s one of the most recognizable symbols of Ancient Egypt, but what does it mean?
Primarily, the eye is a protector. However, the symbol has been around since the very early days of Egypt and over many centuries numerous, sometimes conflicting, stories arose about its origins, actions and significance. It’s pretty confusing. 3,000 years of stories and traditions are not easily digested and squeezed into a nutshell. So, I’ll just give the most common meanings here.
Horus was a sky god and the sun and moon were sometimes referred to as the eyes of Horus; usually the right eye was the sun and the left eye the moon. The sun god Ra also claims the eye. The Eye of Horus and the Eye of Ra are often interchangeable but also diverge in some areas.
According to one story, Horus lost his eye when fighting with his uncle Set for the throne of his murdered (by Set) father Osiris. The eye was restored to Horus by the god Thoth, in this case representing wholeness, health and order from chaos.
In another story, Horus gave his eye to Osiris, who then rose from the dead. The eye was therefore associated with resurrection and life-giving offerings to the gods.
A cautionary tale told of the destructive nature of the eye. Ra lamented the bad behavior of humanity and, in response, the power of the eye manifested as the lion goddess Sekhmet, who went on a blood-thirsty rampage until Ra, horrified by the carnage, lured her away.
Horus was often depicted as a falcon and the eye is represented as a hybrid of a human eye and a stylized falcon eye.