Southgate Schools»Joseph Reynolds

Mr. Reynolds' English Classes

Southgate Anderson High School

Bookmark and Share

Egyptian Mythology

The Afterlife

Atum The Creator - The Egyptian Creation Myth

In the beginning there was only the swirling watery chaos, called Nu. Out of these chaotic waters rose Atum, the sun god of the city of Heliopolis. It is believed that he created himself, using his thoughts and will. In the watery chaos, Atum found no place on which to stand. In the place where he first appeared, he created a hill. This hill was said to be the spot on which the temple of Heliopolis was built. Other interpretations find that Atum was the hill. In this interpretation Atum may represent the fertile, life giving hills left behind by the receding waters of the Nile's annual flood. As early as the Fifth-Dynasty, we find Atum identified with the sun god Ra. By this time his emergence on the primeval hill can be interpreted as the coming of light into the darkness of Nu. As the god of the rising sun, his name is Khepri. . . . . .His next act was to create more gods. Because he was all alone in the world, without a mate, he made a union with his shadow. This unusual way of procreating offspring was not considered strange to the Egyptians. We find Atum regarded as a bisexual god and was sometimes called the 'Great He-She'. The Egyptians were thus able to present Atum as the one and only creative force in the universe. . . . . .According to some texts the birth of Atum's children took place on the primeval hill. In other texts, Atum stayed in the waters of Nu to create his son and daughter. He gave birth to his son by spitting him out. His daughter he vomited. Shu represented the air and Tefnut was a goddess of moisture. Shu and Tefnut continued the act of creation by establishing a social order. To this order Shu contributed the 'principles of Life' while Tefnut contributed the 'principles of order'. . . . . .After some time Shu and Tefnut became separated from their father and lost in the watery chaos of Nu. Atum, who had only one eye, which was removable. This was called the Udjat eye. Atum removed the eye and sent it in search of his children. In time they returned with the eye. At this reunion Atum wept tears joy, where these tears hit the ground, men grew. Now Atum was ready to create the world. So Shu and Tefnut became the parents of Geb, the earth and Nut, the sky. Geb and Nut gave birth to Osiris and Isis, Seth, Nephthys.

Site updated on March 19, 2018