Monday, April 16, 2012

Blogging A to Z - Day 14 - N for Nut

Nut, Sky Goddess, Mother of the Gods

 Nut, goddess of sky supported by Shu the god of air, and the ram-headed Heh deities, while the earth god Geb reclines beneath

To the ancient Egyptians Nut (Nuit) was the personification of the sky (originally she was a goddess of just the sky at day, where the clouds formed) and the heavens. She was believed to be the daughter of the gods Shu and Tefnut, the granddaughter of the sun god Ra. Her husband was also her brother, Geb. She was thought to be the mother of five children on the five extra days of the Egyptian calendar, won by Thoth - Osiris who was born on the first day, Horus the Elder on the second, Set on the third, Isis on the fourth, and Nephthys the last born on the fifth day. The days on which these deities were born were known as the 'five epagomenal days of the year', and they were celebrated all over Egypt:

Osiris - an unlucky day
Horus the Elder - neither lucky nor unlucky
Seth - an unlucky day
Isis - a lucky day, "A Beautiful Festival of Heaven and Earth."
Nephthys - an unlucky day

She was shown in Egyptian artwork as a dark, star-covered naked woman, holding her body up in an arch, facing downwards. Her arms and legs were imagined to be the pillars of the sky, and hands and feet were thought to touch the four cardinal points at the horizon. Far underneath her lay the earth god, Geb, sometimes ithphallyic, looking up at his sister-wife. She was also described as a cow goddess, taking on some of the attributes of Hathor. Geb was described as the "Bull of Nut" in the Pyramid Texts. As a great, solar cow, she was thought to have carried Ra up into the heavens on her back, after he retired from his rule on the earth. At other times, she was just portrait as a woman wearing her sign - the particular design of an Egyptian pot on her head.

In one myth Nut gives birth to the Sun-god daily and he passes over her body until he reaches her mouth at sunset. He then passed into her mouth and through her body and is reborn the next morning. Another myth described the sun as sailing up her legs and back in the Atet (Matet) boat until noon, when he entered the Sektet boat and continued his travels until sunset.

As a goddess who gave birth to the son each day, she became connected with the underworld, resurrection and the tomb. She was seen as a friend to the dead, as a mother-like protector to those who journeyed through the land of the dead. She was often painted on the inside lid of the sarcophagus, protecting the dead until he or she, like Ra, could be reborn in their new life.

In the Book of the Dead, Nut was seen as a mother-figure to the sun god Ra, who at sunrise was known as Khepera and took the form of a scarab beetle (at noon he was Ra at his full strength, and at sunset he was known as Tem (Temu, Atem) who was old and weakening):


  1. I was hoping you'd do Nut. I've always liked that story.

    I wonder why to the Egyptians, the sky is mother and the earth is father. With most mythologies it's the other way around.

  2. Wow! Thanks for the Egyptian mythology lesson. Just stopped by to say hi on the challenge.

  3. Wow, fascinating! Most of my Egyptology knowledge comes from the Elizabeth Peters books, which I adore. I'd love to see Egypt someday. (Now that I've been to one Wonder of the World, I'd like to go to more of them!)

  4. More interesting than Greek mythology, actually. I like pictures! I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month. My alphabet is at

  5. Such an interesting and fun way to meet this challenge! I'm enjoying your blog.

    New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.



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