An Egyptian goddess of cosmic order, justice, wisdom, law, truth, balance, harmony and morality. She was the one to keep the stars in movement, seasons changing and to maintain the order on both Heaven and Earth. According to the Egyptian beliefs the world has not come into existence until Ra the god of the Sun had replaced Isfet (Chaos) with his daughter Maat. Pharaohs were to guard the goddess and to make sure no one would disrupt the balance. Her name was also written as Ma’at, Māt, Maae’t or Mayet and its meaning was probably Truth, Truthfulness.
The earliest writings where Maat is mentioned date back to the Old Kingdom (more than 2300 years ago). Even though she is depicted as a person, she in fact symbolized an Egyptian faith that the universe was logical and stayed in order therefore any disturbances in its functioning must have been caused by people. Maat was a guarantee of an order in Egypt and she represented a cosmic harmony which was in power as long as laws and customs were respected. The Egyptians believed in an inner balance and unity prevailing in the universe which meant that any disturbances could have brought Chaos back and could have caused a danger for people and institutions. It concerned all the aspects of life: authority, trade, seasons changing, movement of planets, religious ceremonies, signing contracts, fairness and truthfulness in everyday life. This is why the Egyptians treated such troubles as e.g. the delay of the Nile’s flooding as a sign of gods’ anger and a pharaoh, the priest of Maat, who did not respect laws would be perceived as a threat (like in the case of Ankhenaten who by the way was said to be particularly devoted to Maat*).
In ancient Egypt the skills of expressing thoughts and writing were highly valued as well as impartiality and the sense of justice (one of the texts quotes the words of Ra that he had created people equal, Maat orders the rich to protect the poor and the weak, not to exploit workers building graves and to take care of the widows and the orphans). Maat was uniting everything in the Universe in one integral wholeness: the world, the state and individuals. Maat was something that we call the SPIRIT of the law, not the exact LETTER of the law. Judges were wearing her image to remember about delivering fair jedgements and keeping justice. Interestingly when Egypt was conquered first by Alexander the Great and then by the Romans, the Egyptian law co-existed with the laws of the intruders for some time but was later replaced (and so women who were so far able to act regardless of men’s agreement and to have their own properties, were deprived of these rights).
At the beginning Maat existed as an independent goddess but later when male and female dieties were paired, Maat became the wife of Thoth god of writing and thus the patroness of scribes. Scribes were very important in Egypt because their abilities to read and write were essential in the correct functioning of the state. They were of course supposed to live in accordance with the laws of Maat. In some beliefs Maat and Thoth created Ogdoad i.e. eight deities worshipped in Hermopolis. Both Maat and Thoth were presented together with Re in his solar barge.
Egyptians believed that Maat was present when the sentence was passed over the soul of a dead person. After death their spirit was going to Duat, the Underworld, where the heart was put on one scale and the feather of Maat was placed n another one (the Egyptians believed that human soul was hidden in heart). If the deeds of deceased stayed in balance with the feather, that person was to go to Aaru, the field of reeds, ruled by Osiris. If their deeds were heavier, the soul was devoured by the lion goddess Ammit and the dead had to stay in Duat. 42 Confessions (Principles) of Maat were also the part of this ritual.
Even though Maat was such an important goddess, it was not until the New Kingdom (around 1500 – 1000 bC) when people began building temples for her. There are proofs that her shrines were situated in Karnak, Memphis and Deir el-Medina.
IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS
Maat was depicted as a young woman either standing or sitting, sometimes winged. She was often portrayed holding the was sceptre in one hand and ANKH in the other. An ostrich feather was her headress (or the ostrich feather itself represented Maat). Her statue was a stone platform depicting the stable foundation on which order was built and the primeaval mound that emerged from the waters of Chaos.
Positive: a peaceful and balanced person who dislikes quarrelling and respects the law. In work this may be a supervisor or a person who watches over the procedures. Someone who likes harmony, is sensitive to the needs of others and delicate while contacting other people.
Negative: a conformist, someone who puts the blame for their faults on others, avoids taking ultimate decisions, is changeable, shallow, superficial and messy. May have problems with law and to be dishonest.
Professions: a lawyer, a judge, a clerk, an official, an auditor, a controller.
In this situation you must be honest, otherwise you will have to face serious consequences. Accept the responsability for the mistakes you have already made. May your thoughts, words and deeds be oneness. You must make choice. Legal or official problem. Ask an attorney or a legal counsellor for help. It is advised to continue studying or to improve qualifications.
If you are in the relationship: depending on your martial status this card signifies either marriage or divorce. It is advised to go to a mediator. Lie. Perhaps you are too hard on your partner and you critisise him/her too much.
If you are single: do not play with the feelings of other people. Make sure you are not giving someone false hope. Be responsible.
Court case. An official control at work. You should keep the letter of the law.
Possible problems with keeping a healthy weight. In negative meaning this card signifies an imbalance (surrounding cards inform what kind of imbalance it is and which system or organ it concerns). A deficiency or an excess. Psychosomatic diseases. Endangered parts of the body: kidneys, lumbar region of spine and back.
Maat with the primeaval mound in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews
Maat with scales in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue
Maat with a jar in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky
Maat in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason
Maat in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc
Maat with a feather in The Goddess Power Pack by Cordelia Brabbs
Weird and rather ridiculous image of war-like Maat in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton
Maat as Justice with scales and ANKH in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano
*Just like Ankhenaten Hatshepsut seemed to somehow violate then existing order. After her husband’s death she became the regent for her minor nephew but in fact she seized the throne and became the pharaoh herself. She adopted Ma’atkare (Maat – Ka – Re meaning ‘Truth Is the Soul of Re’ or ‘Justice is the Soul of Re’) as her throne name. The legacy of both Ankhenaten and Hatshepsut was rejected after their deaths, their names were being erased, their statues and images destroyed and yet in modern times they became very popular. The documentaries are being made about them, books are being written, webpages created… I shall let you decide yourself whether it is all caused by the protection of goddess Maat .