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The Sky Goddess Nut arched protectively over the Earth and all of its inhabitants
Nut (nwt)
in hieroglyphs
W24 t
N1
[1]

In the Ennead of Egyptian mythology, Nut (alternatively spelled Nuit, Newet, and Neuth) was the goddess of the sky.[2] Her name is translated to mean Night and she is considered one of the oldest deities among the Egyptian pantheon,[3] with her origins being found on the creation story of Heliopolis. She was originally the goddess of the nighttime sky, but eventually became referred to as simply the sky goddess. Her headdress was the hieroglyphic of part of her name, a pot, which may also symbolize the uterus. The ancient Egyptians said that every woman was a nutrit, a little goddess. Mostly depicted in human form, Nut was also sometimes depicted in the form of a cow whose great body formed the sky and heavens, a sycamore tree, or as a giant sow, suckling many piglets (representing the stars).

Contents

Origins

A sacred symbol of Nut was the ladder, used by Osiris to enter her heavenly skies. This ladder-symbol was called maqet and was placed in tombs to protect the deceased, and to invoke the aid of the deity of the dead. Nut is considered an enigma in the world of mythology because she is direct contrast to most other mythologies, which usually evolve into a sky father associated with an earth mother or Mother Nature.[4]

The sky goddess Nut depicted as a cow

She appears in the creation myth of Heliopolis which involves several goddesses who play important roles: Tefnut (Tefenet) is a personification of moisture, who mated with Shu (Air) and then gave birth to Sky as the goddess Nut, who mated with her brother Earth, as Geb. From the union of Geb and Nut came, among others, the most popular of Egyptian goddesses, Isis, the mother of Horus, whose story is central to that of her brother-husband, the resurrection god Osiris. Osiris is killed by his brother Set and scattered over the Earth in 14 pieces which Isis gathers up and puts back together. Osiris then climbs a ladder into his mother Nut for safety and eventually becomes king of the dead. A huge cult developed about Osiris that lasted well into Roman times. Isis was her husband's queen in the underworld and the theological basis for the role of the queen on earth. It can be said that she was a version of the great goddess Hathor. Like Hathor she not only had death and rebirth associations, but was the protector of children and the goddess of childbirth..[5]


Some of the titles of Nut were:
- Coverer of the Sky: Nut was said to be covered in stars touching the different points of her body.
- She Who Protects: Among her jobs was to envelop and protect Ra, the sun god.[6]
- Mistress of All or "She who Bore the Gods": Originally, Nut was said to be laying on top of Geb(Earth) and continually having intercourse. During this time she birthed five children: Osiris, Isis, Set, Nephthys, and Horus the Elder.[7]
- She Who Holds a Thousand Souls: Because of her role in the re-birthing of Re every morning and in her son Osiris's resurrection, Nut became a key god in many of the myths about the after-life.[6]

Role

Nut was the goddess of the sky and all heavenly bodies, a symbol of protecting the dead when they enter the after life. According to the Egyptians, during the day, the heavenly bodies—such as the sun and moon—would make their way across her body. Then, at dusk, they would be swallowed, pass through her digestive system during the night, and be reborn at dawn.[8]

Nut is also the barrier separating the forces of chaos from the ordered cosmos in the world. She was pictured as a woman arched on her toes and fingertips over the earth; her body portrayed as a star-filled sky. Nut’s fingers and toes were believed to touch the four cardinal points or directions of north, south, east, and west. Because of her role in saving Osiris, Nut was seen as a friend and protector of the dead, who appealed to her as a child appeals to its mother: “O my Mother Nut, stretch Yourself over me, that I may be placed among the imperishable stars which are in You, and that I may not die.” Nut was thought to draw the dead into her star-filled sky, and refresh them with food and wine: “I am Nut, and I have come so that I may enfold and protect you from all things evil.” She was often painted on the inside lid of the sarcophagus, protecting the deceased. The vault of tombs often were painted dark blue with many stars as a representation of Nut. The Book of the Dead says, “Hail, thou Sycamore Tree of the Goddess Nut! Give me of the water and of the air which is in thee. I embrace that throne which is in Unu, and I keep guard over the Egg of Nekek-ur. It flourisheth, and I flourish; it liveth, and I live; it snuffeth the air, and I snuff the air, I the Osiris Ani, whose word is truth, in peace.” [9]

Modern Interpretation

Modern feminists are very fond of this story because Nut is a woman and a mother. According to mythology she and her husband were joined in intercourse day in and day out, stopping only when forced apart by wind. An American Folklore article pointed out that it was impossible for there to be life or the birth of the Sun king Ra without the work of Nut. She is regulator of night, day, and in essences the passage of time. She gives birth to the sun every morning and swallows him every night, releasing herself from the perpetual role of mother. She was a symbol who held much power during a time when women in most societies were at the mercy of their husbands and male family members. This is a reflection of the more modern thought processes of the Egyptians during this time when a woman was allowed to take her husband to court and was viewed as having rights of her own within Egyptian society.[10]

References

  1. ^ The hieroglyphics (top right) spell nwt or nut. Egyptians never wrote Nuit. (Collier and Manley p. 155) The determinative hieroglyph is for 'sky' or 'heaven', the sky (hieroglyph).
  2. ^ Mythology, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Principal Myths and Religions of the World, by Richard Cavendish ISBN 1-84056-070-3, 1998
  3. ^ The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, by Leonard H. Lesko, 2001
  4. ^ Women of Ancient Egypt and the Sky Goddess Nut, by Susan Tower Hollis The Journal of American Folklore © 1987 American Folklore Society.
  5. ^ "Egyptian goddesses" The Oxford Companion to World mythology. David Leeming. Oxford University Press, 2004. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Southeast Missouri State University. 7 May 2009
  6. ^ a b The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, by Leonard H. Lesko, 2001.
  7. ^ Clark, R. T. Rundle. Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1959.
  8. ^ Hart, George Routledge dictionary of Egyptian gods and goddesses Routledge; 2 edition (15 Mar 2005) ISBN 978-0415344951 p.111 [1]
  9. ^ "Papyrus of Ani: Egyptian Book of the Dead", Sir Wallis Budge, NuVision Publications, page 57, 2007, ISBN 1595479147
  10. ^ Women of Ancient Egypt and the Sky Goddess Nut, by Susan Tower Hollis The Journal of American Folklore © 1987
  • Collier, Mark and Manley, Bill. How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: Revised Edition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
  • "Egyptian goddesses" The Oxford Companion to World mythology. David Leeming. Oxford University Press, 2004. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Southeast Missouri State University. 7 May 2009.
  • "Papyrus of Ani: Egyptian Book of the Dead", Sir Wallis Budge, NuVision Publications, page 57, 2007.
  • The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, by Leonard H. Lesko, 2001.
  • Women of Ancient Egypt and the Sky Goddess Nut, by Susan Tower Hollis The Journal of American Folklore, 1987.

Simple English

For the dry seed of some plants see nut (fruit), other uses are at nut

[[File:|right|175px|thumbnail|The sky goddess Nut as a cow]]

Nut (nwt)
in hieroglyphs
W24*t:N1[1]

In Egyptian mythology, Nut was the goddess of the sky. Her body made a protective layer over the Earth. Nut was the sister and wife of Geb, and the mother of Isis, Osiris, Nephthys, Horus and Seth.

The ancient Egyptians believed that Nut swallowed the sun-god, Ra, every night and gave birth to him every morning

Contents

Worship

Although Nut was pictured in many temples and tombs, as well as on ceilings, she had no building of her own like other major gods and goddesses. She was not well observed in popular places.

Purpose

Nut (pronounced NOOT) was the goddess of the sky, but had many other purposes as well. She had three other names: Nuit, Newet, and Nueth. Nut was known as the mother of all gods, including Ra (her grandfather and husband) because she swallowed him up every night and gave birth to him again in the morning. She was also the mother of heavenly bodies, whose laughter was thunder and tears were rain. She often carried the sun across the sky. She played a part in funeral beliefs and was sometimes drawn on the tops of sarcophagi. Nut was one of the nine major gods. She was the personification of the sky and the heavens. Egyptians called her "the mother of the sky". Nut was one of the oldest deities among history.

Appearance

As the sky goddess, Nut was shown arching over Geb, her fingertips near his head and her toes by his feet. She was commonly pictured dark blue and wore no robes, although some Egyptians believed that Nut wore a rainbow-colored robe, with stars all over her body. Big paintings of her were often found on ceilings of tomb chambers. She can be seen with small vulture wings or a vase on her head. She was often shown as a big cow, when carrying the sun across the sky. The cow was a very motherly figure.

Personality

Nut was a very beautiful and kind goddess. She was loving and caring, so she fell in love with Thoth, the god of scribes and wisdom, and Geb, the god of the Earth. She was a very motherly figure, which then again shows how generous and kind she was. Nut was a very strong and independent goddess, for she would not marry just any person she was forced to; she did what she wanted.

Family

Nut had a strong relationship with Geb, her twin brother and Thoth the god of scribes and wisdom. She was the goddess of the sky and Geb was the god of the earth. In the morning they were separated but at night they came together, which created the darkness. This is a story the ancient Egyptians used to explain their 365-day calendar. Nut loved Geb and Thoth but she was married to Ra. When Ra found out about her secret loves he was furious. He told Nut that she could not have any children in the 360 days of the year. This saddened her so she went to Thoth for help. He created 5 more days so she and Geb had five children: Osiris was first, Horus was second, Set was third, Isis was fourth and Nephthys was the fifth. These days were called the Demon Days.[needs proof] She and Ra also had one daughter named Hathor.

Calendar

The ancient Egyptians had three calendars, but the Agricultural one was the one that was used in everyday life. It was made up of three seasons, each containing four months. The seasons were Akhet, (the inundation) Peret (when the water retreated) and Shemu (harvest season). Nut liked Geb but Ra did not like that so he told Shu their father the earth god to separate them. Then Ra put a curse on Nut so she could not have babies on any of the three-hundred sixty days of the year. Thoth wanted to let Nut able to have babies so he challenged Ra to a game draughts. If he won he would be able to add five days of the year if he lost he would be killed. Obviously Thoth won and got five more days for the year. On the first day Nut had Osiris, on the second day she had Haroesythys, After a long time the Egyptians realized the calendar was off because they didn’t have the quarter day at the end, like we do by having leap year. The calendar said it was flood season but the flood didn’t come until later. The ancient Egyptians noticed the star Sirius would rise right before the flood. They used this as the beginning of the year and the beginning of the flood.

Notes and references

  1. Fleming, Fergus & Lothian, Alan The Way to Eternity P. 52
  2. Lesko, Barbara The Great Goddesses of Egypt Pp. 22-23
  3. Thames & Hudson The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient #Egypt p. 160-61
  4. Lons, Veronica, Egyptian Mythology Pp. 48-50
  5. Lurker, Manfred The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Egypt P. 90
  1. The hieroglyphics (top right) spell nwt or nut. Egyptians never wrote Nuit. (Collier and Manley p. 155)

Other websites

  1. The hieroglyphics (top right) spell nwt or nut. Egyptians never wrote Nuit. (Collier and Manley p. 155)







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