Thursday, August 27, 2009

Myth of Creation

Copyright © Egypt, Cradle of Civilization

The Ancient Egyptians did not have a set of theological principles to their religion, nor did they depend on cronical writings. Their religion developed around how the people interacting with their gods, so it was more like a cult which everyone followed as traditions are followed. Everything in their lives was strongly influenced by their beliefs and everything was compromised for the gods.

The Egyptians resisted chance and established the conditions which they believed existed at the dawn of creation. Myths were used to explain the phenomenon of nature, express the values of a culture and to tell the story of the first people to inhabit the Earth. Of course these people where elevated to the status of gods and goddesses, having supernatural powers.

Heliopolis, the City of the Sun is where creation began, according to Egyptian myth. The myth goes to say that at the beginning of time the world was surrounded by infinite expanse of churning, bubbling water, which was the god Nu or Nun, and it was out of Nu that everything began. The first to emerge from the watery mess, Nu was the sun god Atum, the creator of the world. Atum was said to have come out of a blue giant lotus flower that appeared on the surface of the water.

The bisexual god Atum was known as the "Great He-She." Atum was also known by many other names like Khepri, the great scarab beetle, Ra-Harakhte, the winged-solar disk, Ra, the midday sun, Aten, the solar-disk, or Horus on the Horizon. No matter what name he took he was viewed as the one and only creator in the universe.

Alone, Atum mated with his shadow, giving birth to two children by spitting out his son, Shu and vomiting up his daughter, Tefnut. Shu represented the air and the principles of life and Tefnut represented rain and principles of order. After the three remained in the watery chaos of Nu for some time, they got separated, but on being reunited again Atum wept tears of joy. And as his tears hit the ground men grew and this is how the world was created.

Shu and Tefnut married and gave birth to Geb, the god of the Earth and is the place where the throne of the Pharaoh would be decided. They also gave birth to Nut, the goddess of the sky. So Above Geb arched Nut and separating them stood Shu. There also existed another space equivalent to the living world, called the Duat, this was considered as the underground and the place where the soul of the dead receives judgment. The sky beneath the Duat was formed by the feminine counterpart of Nu, Naunet.

Geb and Nut then gave birth to Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys. Osiris became the symbol of good, while Seth became the symbol of evil. And thus the two poles of morality were fixed once and for all. Seth killed his brother Osiris, but with the help of his sister-wife Isis, Osiris was resurrected and became the god of the underworld.

The sun god Ra (Atum) supreme of all gods, traveled in his barque across Nu (the sky) during the day and as the sun set Ra journeyed over Duat across Naunet during the night. While in the underworld, Ra meets with Osiris, the god of resurrection, so that his life is renewed. He also fights each night with Apep, a serpentine god representing chaos. The defeat of Apep and the meeting with Osiris insured the rising of the sun the next morning, an event that represented rebirth and the victory of order over chaos.

The Egyptians saw death as a transitional stage in the progress to a better life in the next world. Their belief in the rebirth after death became their driving force behind their funeral practices, and only through which they could reach their full potential after death.

About the Author:
Gawhara Hanem
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