Study Guide

Ra (Re) Gossip

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The word Ra in ancient Egyptian isn't just the name of the god. It also means "sun." Half a world away, in New Zealand, the Maori people also call the sun Ra, though the sun god they call "son of the Sun," or Tama-nui-te-Ra. (Source)

Ra is also the chemical designation of Radium, a radioactive element. Like the god, it glows!

Great birds of fire! The bennu bird (named from the ancient Egyptian word for "shiny") was a symbol of Ra. Even though it was usually shown as a giant heron, this shiny bird made it to Greece in the story of the Phoenix, a bird that burns itself up at the temple of Ra in Heliopolis, and is reborn from its own ashes.

The pharaohs who built the pyramids wanted to be sure they could rise like Ra in the afterlife. How? They buried giant boats nearby, to be used like Ra's solar boat. Some of these boats are still in place and have been found. (Source)

"When the world was in darkness, darkness and ignorance, along came Ra…." Sun Ra (1914-1993) was a famous jazz composer and beat poet, and one of the first musicians to use electronic keyboards. He also told people he was from outer space, or that he was the god Ra reborn. Whether or not that's true, he made some funky music.

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