Khonsu: The God of Moon

What is moon worship?

Moon is Earth’s only permanent natural satellite. Scientifically speaking, it impacts on the tidal system of earth. Besides this, it also lightened the night time. Thus, the moon is very important to the inhabitants of the earth. People in the ancient world already understood the importance of the moon. So, they started worshipping it. They gave it a personified body. They made the cult of moon worship. Ancient Egyptians were not exceptions. They did the same.

the moon

The origin of the word ‘Khonsu’

Originally, the word ‘Khonsu; came from the verb ‘khenes‘. It means ‘to cross over’ or ‘to traverse’.

What was Khonsu the god of?

In ancient Egypt, people worshipped the moon. They gave it a personified body. People called this personification, ‘Khonsu’. Khonsu is the male personification of the moon. According to Pyramid Texts, he assisted the deceased king in catching & killing some specific gods. The king fed upon this gods. He did this as he wants to absorb their strength.

khonsu the god of the moon

Who is Khonsu related to?

Khonsu is closely related to the ‘Triad of Thebes’. Triad of Thebes was a group of three deities. This group emerged in the region of Thebes. They formed Theban theology. The three deities of this triad are Amun, Mut & Khonsu. Here, Khonsu is the son of Amun & Mut. Specifically, 18th & 25th Dynasties patronized this triad greatly.

thebes triad

The iconography of Khonsu

Usually, Khonsu is depicted in anthropomorphic form with as a young man tied in mummy bandages or a specific tightly fitting garment. There is a lunar symbol upon his head. This indicates his lunar personification. This symbol consists of the full lunar disk resting in a crescent New Moon. He often holds crook & flail as well as a  djed-headed stuff.

khonsu icon with the head of a man

The sky god: falcon-headed Khonsu

There is another representation of Khonsu. Here he is a falcon-headed god. In this form, he is a sky god.

falcon-headed khonsu

The protector god

Ptolemy IV was a Macedonian king of Egypt. He called himself ‘beloved of Khonsu who protects the king and drives away evil spirits’. This reflects the importance of Khonsu as a protector god. Ancient Egyptians believed that he had great healing power.

The ‘Bentrsh Stela’: Great epigraphic evidence

The ‘Bentresh Stela’ is an inscription. It was inscribed in Thebes in the 4th century BCE. This inscription is very important. Because it revealed how the various forms of Khonsu interacted with each other.

Other Associations of the god

Mainly, Khonsu is associated with the Triad of Thebes. But he has other associations also. At Kom Omo temple, he is the son of Sobek & Hathor. At Edfu temple, he is linked to Osiris. Sometimes, he is also related to Thoth also.

The temple of Khonsu at Karnak

The main cult centre of Khonsu was Karnak. Pharaoh Rameses III  was the second pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty. He ordered to construct this temple. it consists of a peristyle court. This court is bordered by a balcony of twenty-eight columns. There is also a hypostyle hall. This is connected to the sanctuary of the barque with chapels. It is opened to the left and right and a staircase leading to the roof.

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