The Eye of Horus

The Eye of Horus - also called the wedjat or udjat - is a very popular symbol, appearing on all sorts of jewelry from pendants to rings. Many of those who buy these are vaguely aware that the eye is some form of ancient Egyptian symbol but that's all they know about where it came from and what it means.

There's nothing wrong with that - the design is attractive in its own right. However if you're thinking of buying one, either for yourself or as a gift, I hope you'll find the following interesting.

History

The ancient Egyptian pantheon was far from simple or even fixed. Horus has had many forms over the years, the most well known being Horus the Elder and Horus the Younger (or Child). Eventually these two merged, the latter being seen as a reincarnation of the former.

Horus was essentially a powerful sky god who also had connections with the sun (sometimes the eye is known as the Eye of Ra). He is depicted with the head of a falcon and in hieroglyphics is represented by a winged sun disc. The name Horus derives from the Egyptian Heru - "the distant one".

The Eye symbol is based on the eye of the peregrine falcon and its distinctive markings found beneath the eye.

The Eye of Horus also had an interesting use in Egyptian mathematics, with each section used to represent a particular fraction. The fractions represented are the inverse powers of 2 from 1/2 down to 1/64. These fractional symbols were used on ancient Greek records.

Strictly speaking only one of the two eyes belongs to Horus. The other was ripped out by Seth and later restored by Thoth. One eye is thus the Eye of Horus and represents the sun, the other is the Eye of Thoth and represents the moon. Nowadays many ignore this distinction and refer to either eye as the Horus Eye.

Symbolism

The Eye is traditionally considered a symbol of power. It was also believed to have protective and healing powers and is associated with rebirth. It was a popular funerary amulet to give protection in the next world - one was found on the mummy of Tutankhamen.

More recently the Eye has been linked to the all seeing eye of the Masons and the eye in the pyramid of the US Great Seal.

The healing powers of Horus and the use of his symbol as an indicator of measurements are also said to have led to the Eye evolving into the modern Rx symbol used on prescription instructions to the drug store pharmacist.




External Links:
Eye of Horus Fractions