The first episode of Moon Night just dropped on Disney Plus, and the fans have questions. Episode one, “The Goldfish Problem” was filled with revelations that generated a lot more questions than answers. Many of them concern the mysterious cult-like following of the series’ main antagonist (so far), Arthur Harrow, played by Ethan Hawke. Harrow appears to worship or at least commune with a deity of ancient Egypt known as Ammit. But what exactly is Ammit. Was it real? Sourced from the comics? Or just spun out of whole cloth for the series?
We have answers for you.
To begin with, Ammit was an absolutely real IRL deity, at least back in the days when the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt were still worshipped. Ammit, also styled as Ammut or Ahemait, was a funerary deity associated with the afterlife — a topic of extreme importance to the ancient Egyptians. Ammit had the head of a crocodile, the forequarters of a lion, and the hindquarters of a hippopotamus, making her a combination of what the Egyptians of that time considered to be the most deadly “man-eating” animals. Although Ammit was considered a “goddess” per se, or even a demoness, she was not worshipped and had no cultus. Instead, she served as a punisher of the unjust.
The ancient Egyptians believed that after one died, their heart must be weighed against a feather taken by Ma’at, the goddess of truth and morality. If the feather weighed more, the heart was deemed impure and thrown to Ammit, who then would devour it, earning her the titles “Devourer of the Dead,” “Eater of Hearts,” and “Great of Death.”
She was indeed, as Steven Grant describes her in episode one, something of a “bogeyman” to terrify the ancients into hewing to the noble path of Ma’at.
Ammit has been a part of the Marvel Comics continuity for a while, having served as an antagonist or monster in titles including Savage Sword of Conan, and Hellstrom: Son of Satan before appearing in Volume Nine of Moon knight’s solo series. Ammit took over the form of a psychiatrist, Dr. Emmet, a character previously introduced in Volume Eight, in order to convince Moon Knight he was actually just an ordinary man who suffered from delusions.
Harrow’s character in the Moon Night Disney Plus series has a very different take on Ammit than the Egyptians of antiquity. To him, she does appear to be an object fit for worship. And in fact, it might be the way to cleanse the world of “impure” hearts.
After Steven wakes up in a European village, presumably after haven been taken over by his Marc Spector identity, he witnesses Harrow standing in judgment of two different people who volunteer themselves to be put to a purity test that seems to resemble the mythological test of the Egyptian afterlife. Harrow takes one’s hands and balances his double crocodile-headed walking stick between his own palms. The scales tattooed on his forearm swing as the man is judged to be pure. When he repeats the process on the other, she is found impure and dies. He does this in the name of Ammit, stating, “I judge you in Ammit’s name with but a fraction of her power.”
Later, Harrow confronts Steven in the museum where he works. When Steven calls Ammit a bogeyman, Harrow answers, “She was only a bogeyman for evildoers… she grew weary of having to wait for sinners to commit their crime before punishing them.”
Harrow describes a world where the perpetrators of genocide and war crimes would be wiped from the map. However, when he attempts to weigh Steven’s soul, he seems to run into something unexpected.
But exactly what that is, or whether his plans to awaken Ammit to her full power will work, are questions only the remaining five episodes of Moon Knight can answer.