Offering and Life

Offerings, as ankh, were consubstantial with god. That such a large portion of them consisted of food makes their link to life force clear. Texts speak of the animal’s thigh and heart as awakening life and transmitting life force to the god. Such texts help us understand the symbolism of presenting the ankh-signs and ib-heart to god during the offering ritual. A god was not immortal in the absolute sense; a god’s life force needed replenishment. Of course, the life force that was returned to god in offerings had previously come from god, the source of life force. Thus offerings to god were consubstantial with god. The circular flow of life from god to king/Egypt and back again prevented the cosmos from winding down. Offerings were more than gift giving; they were reciprocal creation.

– Byron E. Shafer, “Temples, Priests, and Rituals: An Overview”, Temples of God in Ancient Egypt (ed. Shafer)


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