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  • Writer's pictureEgytian Priestess

Khepri: Egyptian God of Sunrise and Scarabs

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

Khepri is the famous scarab beetle god of ancient Egypt that brings the sun into existence every day at dawn and pushes the sun across the sky.

He represents the dawn sun and the creative forces in the universe. The sun scarab beetle was also commonly used as a symbol of protection and helped a person prepare their spirit for the afterlife.

Khepri and the sun disk
Khepri and the sun disk

Khepri, the God who pushes the Sun across the Sky

Khepri is a sun god, but only one of several sun gods worshipped in ancient Egypt. He is specifically linked to the dawning sun and the rebirth of the sun each day, seemingly from nothing. His name means “coming into being”.

The scarab beetle emerged as a symbol for this sun god because scarab beetles lay their eggs within a ball of dung, and the newborn beetles only emerge from the ball of dung only when they are fully formed. This makes it appear as if they are born from nothing, like the sun.

Khepri is often interpreted as an aspect of the much more popular sun god Ra. Khepri is Ra at sunrise and Atum is Ra at sunset. But it is clear that at other times Khepri was also treated as a separate deity in his own right. However, unlike Ra, he does not seem to have had any cult centers where he was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians.

Khepri is more of an animist deity than a god of ritual and ceremonies.

Khepri on ancient Egyptian papyri
Khepri on ancient Egyptian papyri

Khepri, Ancient Egyptian Creator God

If Khepri brings the life-giving sun into existence every day, he is clearly a creator god. In some stories of the gods of Heliopolis, Khepri is also considered one of the sons of Nu and Nut.

Pyramid texts relating to these deities suggest that some ancient Egyptians believed that Ra came into being in the form of Khepri, and that in this form, he was responsible for creating all living things on the Earth from the raw materials provided by Nu and Nut.

Khepri God the Resurrector

As a member of the great Ennead of Heliopolis, the god Khepri is also connected with Osiris. This is probably why Khepri is also linked with resurrection.

Scarab beetles were often placed on the heart of the deceased during the mummification process in the belief that the beetle would help prepare the soul for judgment by Ma’at. Perhaps the rebirthing powers of Khepri allow the dead to lay any potential sins to one side and face judgment with a clear conscience.

Khepri Scarab Beetle Amulet
Khepri Scarab Beetle Amulet

Khepri the Protector

Scarab symbols were also commonly worn, and it is suggested that they were used as protective symbols. It is one of the most common symbols found in the ancient Egyptian world.

Khepri Scarab Beetle Symbolism

Khepri, as the sun god, is almost always depicted as a scarab beetle with its wings outstretched. The divine dung beetle holds the ball of the sun in its front legs, and it is not difficult to imagine the beetle pushing the sun disk across the sky, echoing the movement of the sun.

Khepri is also sometimes shown in a sun bark, being held up by the sky goddess Nut. Khepri rolls the sun disk into her hands.

Khepri on the Sun Bark
Khepri on the Sun Bark

Scarab amulets, however, such as those placed on the hearts of the dead, almost always appear as the scarab alone with wings closed and inscribed with hieroglyphics. This seems to suggest that Khepri is nascent, and he is at the moment before he brings the sun into being.

This may have been considered appropriate for placing on the heart of the dead during mummification as it was the moment before they underwent a transformation into the afterlife.

There are also a few examples of Khepri with the body of a man and the head of a scarab beetle. In these cases, he holds an Ankh, the Egyptian life symbol, in one hand and a was-sceptre, a symbol of power and dominion, in the other. These images may represent Khepri as a divine supporter of the Pharaoh. Many Pharaohs incorporated Khepri’s name into their own.

Khepri Amulet
Khepri Amulet

Khepri in Kemetism and Neterism

Khepri has become a prominent symbol in Kemetism or Neterism, which is a modern neopagan revival of ancient Egyptian religion.

The religion treats a select group of Egyptian gods (neteru), including Khepri, as divine energies or forces that exist within the spiritual plane to share spiritual knowledge with mankind, including the secrets of magic.

But this approach also suggests that there is just one great divine and spiritual force in the universe, the Neter, and that each Neteru is a manifestation of an aspect of that force. They are called gods to aid human understanding and engagement.

Scarab Beetle Amulet
Scarab Beetle Amulet

Khepri at the Altar

Khepri is invoked in modern witchcraft practices as a symbol of manifestation and transformation.

He can be summoned to bring the creative energy required to create something new from seemingly nothing.

He can also be called on to aid in transformations and is often used to help find opportunities and change potentially negative situations into positive ones.

The scarab symbol is the best way to invoke Khepri at your altar, and rituals for the god are best conducted at sunrise.

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