By Devon Strong
Prominent in the cosmology of nearly every culture, the legends of the Pleiades vary greatly throughout the world.
Ancient Egyptians believed that life was meaningful whether it was an earthly life or life in the hereafter. It is for this reason that their symbol for life figured so prominently in daily life as well as the funerary texts found on the walls of ancient burial chambers. Deities such as Isis or Anubis are often depicted pressing the ankh against the lips of the dead, allowing them to come to life in the underworld.
The prevalence of wedjau, as amulets were known to the Egyptians, pointed to the belief that supernatural benefits could be gained from their various charms. The ankh was one of three amulets that were commonly worn by Egyptians, the others being the Wadjet or the Eye of Horus for good health and the Djed or the Pillar for stability.
A simple symbol, the ankh is rich with meaning. It represents both the male and female genitalia, as well as a key to the gates of the afterlife. Its primary meaning of life can be found in the simple design, with the oval at the top representing the rising Sun, the cross bar representing the horizon over which the sun must climb and the path of the Sun through the underworld represented in the vertical bar.
The ankh reminds us that life is a continual cycle through which we pass. We can find hope in the rising sun, whether that be here on the physical plane or in the realms beyond.