Few Egyptian symbols enjoy as much popularity in modern tattoo symbolism as the Eye of Horus does today. However, it was easily 4,000 years ago that this amulet symbol first acquired its positive powers. Among the ancient Egyptians, the legend of Horus, the god with the head of a falcon, was well known. He was the son of Isis, the great matriarchal magician, and Osiris, the greatest of the gods. But Osiris had been murdered by Seth, his own son and the brother of Horus. In a conflict between Horus and Seth over the throne, Horus defeated his brother but his left eye (which was the moon – his right eye was the sun) was plucked out in the battle. The god Thoth was able to restore the eye though, which explained to the ancient Egyptians the reason for the waxing and waning of the moon.
The Egyptian word wedjat means “the sound one” and the restored Eye of Horus is thus also known as the wedjat eye. Its first use as an amulet was actually performed by Horus himself who offered it to his dead father Osiris, restoring him to life. The great healing and protective powers of the wedjat eye as an amulet were widely known and believed as early as the Old Kingdom (2300 B.C.E.). Large numbers of them were often placed among the wrappings of mummies in addition to being worn as pendants and rings. The unique form of the eye, with the downward spiraling element which starts at the forward corner is taken from the distinctive facial markings of hawks. The most common colors used for the amulets were blue and green since these represented regeneration to the ancient Egyptian. As Horus came to symbolize the forces of good and light, while his vanquished brother Seth came to represent the forces of evil and darkness, the wedjat eye also grew to stand for the constant struggle between the two.