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Before the Ten Commandments: The 42 Commandments of the Goddess Ma’at

Written at least 2,000 years before the Ten Commandments of Moses, the 42 Commandments of Ancient Egypt, the “ Ideals of Ma’at,” were one of Africa’s – and the world’s – oldest sources of moral and spiritual instruction. In fact, 8 of the 10 Commandments originate from the Ideals of Ma’at. And although they were somewhat buried in 2000 years of history, and the splitting of religions, The 42 Ideals of Ma’at are so simple, and so beautiful – they cover every basic tenant of higher awareness and consciousness – they are as relevant today as if they came straight from a modern day spiritual teacher.

Ma’at was the Ancient Egyptian Goddess of the Divine Principles of Truth, Justice, and Righteousness. She was also personified as a goddess who regulated the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. The significance of Ma’at was all-encompassing –  it embraced all aspects of existence, including the basic equilibrium of the universe, the relationship between constituent parts, the cycle of the seasons, heavenly movements, religious observations and fair dealings, honesty and truthfulness in social interactions.

In addition to Ma’at’s role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, according to Egyptian mythology she also was responsible for the weighing of souls in the underworld.  Her measure determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully. The measure was that their heart must be lighter than her measurement tool – a feather.

Thus, the ultimate aim for an Ancient Egyptian student was to become “One with The Most High” or to become “a god” or “like God” or divine. The path to the development of godlike qualities was through the cultivation of virtues and knowledge of your true Self. Many believed that virtue could only be achieved through special study, effort and the knowledge of cultural rites of passage.
The following Ideals were sought by the Egyptians to become one with Ma’at and the balance of cosmic order to assure their passage into the afterlife:

The 42 Ideals of Ma’at 

1. I honor virtue

2. I benefit with gratitude

3. I am peaceful

4. I respect the property of others

5. I affirm that all life is sacred

6. I give offerings that are genuine

7. I live in truth

8. I regard all altars with respect

9. I speak with sincerity

10. I consume only my fair share

11. I offer words of good intent

12. I relate in peace

13. I honor animals with reverence

14. I can be trusted

15. I care for the earth

16. I keep my own council

17. I speak positively of others

18. I remain in balance with my emotions

19. I am trustful in my relationships

20. I hold purity in high esteem

21. I spread joy

22. I do the best I can

23. I communicate with compassion

24. I listen to opposing opinions

25. I create harmony

26. I invoke laughter

27. I am open to love in various forms

28. I am forgiving

29. I am kind

30. I act respectfully of others

31. I am accepting

32. I follow my inner guidance

33. I converse with awareness

34. I do good

35. I give blessings

36. I keep the waters pure

37. I speak with good intent

38. I praise the Goddess and the God

39. I am humble

40. I achieve with integrity

41. I advance through my own abilities

42. I embrace the All

These Laws command our love and respect for the life, dignity and Goddess-given rights of all living things, as well as imposing upon us divine obligations and duties toward them, and our precious planet. By their observance we reflect the light upon the world, fusing virtue with justice, and aligning individual rights with righteousness.

These ancient ideals were created to apply to everyone regardless of belief system. There was no concept of religious bias in ancient Egypt.  People strived to live a good life in accordance to these ideals of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice.  The 42 Ideals of Ma’at are valuable passages of history that are as viable today as they were 5,000 years ago.

If you want to further explore the importance of tapping into your inner goddess, you will enjoy this article:   Or, this article on Shakti and Yoni Power (ancient, sacred girl power!) 

 These ideals are an example of how some things will always be promoted in our culture.  We couldn’t think of a single value that is missing can you?  Which are the most important to you?