Monday, April 12, 2010

The Egyptian Creation Myth

Since the Nile river, with its annual floods played a critical role in this cosmic order. It should come as no surprise to find water the fundamental element in the Egyptians ideas of creation. For the Egyptians to watch the inundation of their land would have been like watching a earthly model of their ideas of a watery creation. Allow me to explain.

. . . . .In the beginning there was only water, a chaos of churning, bubbling water, this the Egyptians called Nu or Nun. It was out of Nu that everything began. As with the Nile, each year the inundation no doubt caused chaos to all creatures living on the land, so this represents Nu. eventually the floods would recede and out of the chaos of water would emerge a hill of dry land, one at first, then more. On this first dry hilltop, on the first day came the first sunrise. So that is how the Egyptians explain the beginning of all things.

. . . . .Not surprisingly, the sun was also among the most important elements in the Egyptians lives and therefore had an important role as a creator god. His names and attributes varied greatly. As the rising sun his name was Khepri, the great scarab beetle, or Ra-Harakhte who was seen as a winged solar-disk or as the youthful sun of the eastern horizon. As the sun climbed toward mid-day it was called Ra, great and strong. When the sun set in the west it was known as Atum the old man, or Horus on the horizon. As a solar-disk he was known as Aten. The sun was also said to be an egg laid daily by Geb, the 'Great Cackler' when he took the form of a goose.

. . . . .To the Egyptians the moon was any one of a number of gods. As an attribute of the god Horus the moon represented his left eye while his right was the sun. Seth was a lunar god, in his struggles with the solar god Horus, Seth is seen as a god of darkness doing constant battle with the god of light. We often find the ibis-headed god Thoth wearing a lunar creseant on his head.

. . . . .To the Egyptians the sky was a goddess called Nut. She was often shown as a cow standing over the earth her eyes being the sun and the moon. She is kept from falling to earth by Shu, who was the god of air and wind, or by a circle of high mountains. As this heavenly cow, she gave birth to the sun daily. The sun would ride in the 'Solar Barque' across Nut's star covered belly, which was a great cosmic ocean. Then as evening fell, Nut would swallow the sun creating darkness. She is also pictured as a giant sow, suckling many piglets. These piglets represented the stars, which she swallowed each morning before dawn.Nut was also represented as an elongated woman bending over the earth and touching the horizons with her toes and finger tips. Beneath her stretched the ocean, in the center of which lay her husband Geb, the earth-god.He is often seen leaning on one elbow, with a knee bent toward the sky, this is representive of the mountains and valleys of the earth. Green vegetation would sprout from Geb's brown or red body.

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