The Ten Great Egyptian Versions of Creation
The creation and origin of the world (at least of our planet) always intrigued the primitive tribes of all continents. In Egypt , we found belief in ten creation gods, who were supposed to have dragged the world out of the primordial chaos. Besides all these beliefs and primitive myths there may have been many others which were less known and existed in the provinces in predynastic period.
1. The god "ATOUM of Heliopolis" and Pithom (The Nile Delta)
At Heliopolis, (Leontopolis of the 13th district), ATOUM, whose name means "He who is and is not" - was a god who floated in the waters of the Noun.
The texts of the Pyramids show him as a pharaoh wearing the 2 crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. Then, despite the primitive idea that he exclusively created the world, the following eras gave him two female partners, the goddesses TEMET (one of the 4 faces of Hathor) and IOUASSAS, who gave birth to the first couple SHOU and TEFNOUT.
In ancient times, at Pithom, (the 8th district ), Atoum was considered to be "the great Lord of the Universe." The priests later associated him with Re, the source of life and light, who could predict the number of years each would pharaohs reign, as the fruit of the tree of eternity (called ISHED), where all parted lovers would find each other again one day.
The Descendants of the Supreme God : ATOUM-RE :
2. The Goddess NEITH of Sais (5th district of the Nile)
NEITH had the form of a woman wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt. She was the precursor of Diane. In her hands she held a bow and arrows. Like ATOUM, she was a hermit goddess who created the world using 7 words or 7 arrows.
Replacing the Cow-Goddesses HESAT and METHYER she created the sun along with Sobek, the master of the marshes. Finally she was associated with DOUAMOUTEF, one of the four sons of Horus. She watched over the funeral vase containing the entrails of the dead.
3. The God PTAH of MEMPHIS (the district on the border of the 2 kingdoms)
He was thought to be the god who initiated life; he had conceived the world in his heart before creating it in fact. In the Old Kingdom, he borrowed many virtues from the preceding god ATOUM without completely replacing him.
He is presented as a man wrapped in a case, with a skull-cap on his head. In his hands he held the Egyptian cross symbol, the ANKH- the symbol of eternity, and also the sceptre Ouas of the gods.
Already worshipped at Dei el-Medineh, near the valley of the queens. His cult probably started before the building of Memphis, where be became the principal god. Beginning with the 3rd Dynasty, PTAH was at first associated with Sokar, (the ancient mummified falcon god), then with Osiris, to blend together the three divine acts: of creation, metamorphosis and rebirth.
4. OGDOADE of Hermopolis (15th district of Middle Egypt)
This was a strange compendium of gods: 2 couples of serpents and 2 couples of frogs who had left the waters of the Noun. This god personified the elements of creation: infinite liquid, primordial obscurity, and the fertility from the floods, which fertilized the soil and brought along with it reptilians and amphibians from the high Plateau. The clergy of Thebes could only surmise that humanity came from snakes (who had grown feet!) The hidden god Amon of Thebes replaced the Ogdoade.
5. The God THOT of Hermopolis (15th district of Middle Egypt)
This curious god, with the head of a pointed beaked Ibis, held the sun on his head, succeeded the Ogdoade at Hermopolis. Considered in ancient times to be the great god of wisdom and science, he was the master of words and writing. He created the world by the WORD and became beside Osiris the judge of souls. In Memphis in the Old Kingdom he was thought of as the tongue of PTAH, and becoming the "guardian of truth".
Linked to the myth of flooding, he accompanied SHOU, taking the form of a monkey, to be better able to catch the runaway Tefnout, who had to return to Heliopolis to rejoin his father Re and bring the flood waters which the country so much needed.
6. The god HERYSHEF of Heracleopolis (20th district of Middle Egypt)
This name means "he who is on the lake".Presented as a man with the head of a ram, he wore the 2 crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. These were the symbols of his royal power which he exercised mainly during the time of the Middle Kingdom when his city was chosen as the capital of the Kingdom.
He was considered to be a local creation god and (with the god Min of Coptos), and brought fertility and reproduction.
7. The god MONTOU of Ermant near Thebes (4th district of Egypt)
Usually represented a man with a falcons head (with the sun on his forehead) he was the god of war. He was a local creation god and his cult continued until the period of the Old Kingdom, when he was gradually replaced by AMON : the invisible, omnipresent god.
8. The goddess METHYER or Mehytouret of Esna (3rd district of Upper Egypt)
This ancient goddess was represented as a primeval cow floating on the waters of the Noun, symbolizing life leaving the waters. Like the goddess Neith, who succeeded her, she also gave birth to the sun. She protected the sun by placing it between her horns, which were curved into the shape of a lyre.
9. The goddess NEKBET of Elkab ou Nekheb (3rd district of Upper Egypt)
Just like the goddess Neith, the creation goddess of Elkab created the world using 7 words or 7 arrows. She was a white vulture who extended her wings to protect the pharaoh. Sometimes she was represented as perched on a nest held up by large flowers. She held in her claws the Ouas, the sceptre of the gods.
10. The god KHNOUM of Elephantine (1st district of Upper Egypt)
This ancient god was presented as a man (with the head of a ram) seated before a potters wheel. He was making two small human beings from the clay with his hands! His companions were sometimes the goddess SATIS, (wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt with 2 antelope horns), and sometimes the gazelle goddess ANOUKIS, whose cult was supplanted by that of NEPHTYS, (the sister of Osiris and SET).
SATIS was believed to be the goddess of fertility and love. She was thought to be able to purify (with the help of her Uraeus) the bodies of the first pharaohs as they reached the entrance to the kingdom of the dead. Later, (as the Greek goddess Diana), SATIS became the goddess of hunting.
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