The world was a mystery for the ancients. Much of what happened around them was frightening and unknown, so the gods—especially those in Ancient Egypt—represented aspects of the world that were unknown to the people.
Most Egyptian gods represented one aspect of the world. For example, Nut was the goddess of the sky. Ra was the sun god. Most of the gods were generally friendly, but this friendliness could not be counted on. The most changeable god was Seth, who murdered his brother; and Osiris who was the embodiment of the malevolent aspects of the world.
The god’s physical forms were usually a mixture of animal and human. Animals were also used to express the mood of a God; for example, when a god was angry, it could be seen as a lioness or when content or feeling gentle, it could be seen as a cat or dog.
Some gods were shown as only being human and these are known as the “Cosmic” gods. Geb of the earth, Shu of the air, Min—the god of fertility. There are a series of minor gods who took on forms that could be described as grotesque—Taurt who had the physical form of a crocodile mixed with a hippopotamus, for example.
On the other side, there were demons who were certainly more powerful than humans but nothing like as powerful as Gods. They were immortal, could be in many places at once and could change the world using supernatural powers. There were limits to their powers, though, and the biggest demon was called Ammut who was the Devourer of the Dead. She was depicted as being part lioness, part hippopotamus and part crocodile. In depictions known to us, she is shown near scales on which she would weigh the hearts of the dead against the feature of Truth. She would devour those who had performed such wicked deeds in life that they were unable, or unfit, to enter the afterlife.