Lately we’ve been talking a lot about some of the reasons why ancient Egyptians put the pyramids on the west side of the Nile River and the temples on the east side, why some of the drawings on the tombs and walls of the temples mimic certain ancient gods, the significance of wearing a sun disc on one’s head, and the belief that the sun was a god named Ra that would be born every day in the east, journey through the sky, die in the west, and continue his journey in the underworld. These topics got me interested about the vast mythology that goes behind such beliefs. As you probably already know, many ancient civilizations (Greek, Norse, Roman, etc.) have an extensive mythological story that has an explanation for just about everything that goes on in the world. From the reasons why the seasons change to why humans feel emotion, mythology allowed ancient people to be at peace with the way things are. Well, I am a pretty big Greek mythology buff, but I realized that I know almost nothing about Egyptian mythology. So after doing a little research and looking into some of the different versions of the creation story (no matter the religion there always seems to be different versions of the same story, weird ;p) I decided to blog about the most interesting one I found.
The world started out as a chaos of churning water, known as Nu or Nun. Out of Nu came Atum, the lord of Heliopolis. He stood on a single mound he created called ben-ben and this is where the temple of Heliopolis was built. The creation of ben-ben brought light into the world and Atum became known as Atum-Ra. Ra, the sun god that rises in the east and dies in the west. Ra then created the gods Shu (the air) and Tefnut (the moisture) through asexual reproduction. Together, Shu and Tefnut produced Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky). Geb and Nut conceived Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, and Seth (or Set). After conceiving, Geb and Nut were separated by their father, Shu. Now the sky is high above, while the earth is way below with air in the middle. Many ancient drawings of this show Geb the earth laying down with Nut the sky arched over him with Shu the air holding her up. Ra the sun is usually traveling along Nut’s body.
Now obviously mythology is just that, a myth. But people need to believe in something, and I think it is very interesting how back then, an entire civilization was able to settle on basically the same story of how their world came to be and agree to worship the same gods. Because those were the gods that ruled their world every day.