When people talk to me about the act of picking a deity, what they usually find themselves concerned about is if their pantheon is going to be a good match for them. When I hear these concerns I pass on to them the wisdom my mentors passed on to me, look at “how that pantheon treats death” and see how they feel about that system of afterlife. What I find myself not mentioning is to look at the story of creation that comes from their pantheon because “creation stories” are something that every “system” of religion or “culture” has and while they are beautiful are full of allegories metaphors and are very “un-scientific”. I like the Bible’s creation story, though I really hated the “garden of Eden” myth, I love the Hindu creation story, the Greek creation story, the Persians, the Sumerians, and the list goes on and on. These stories all have similar elements but tell the story so differently. My logical mind argues that these stories are man/woman told to explain things that cannot be explained and I feel this is probably true; but I have always liked a good tall tale; and I read constantly so I will never stop reading or listening to “creation myths”.
However, when any culture starts to establish myths or spiritual learning stories as truth you have a problem. Here in the south, we live with this problem (issue) even in our public school systems and it does not seem to be something we can escape. On the other hand though, I am a Pagan parent and a HPS and what really seems to "burn my biscuits" is how many Pagans do not know their own creation stories! Or even if they do, they seem to have difficulty deriving from the stories what it is they are supposed to glean. It is very important if you are on this path, that you read and learn and re-acquaint yourself regularly with your path's "creation story" there are pearls of wisdom embedded in them so deep that you could grow a whole orchard of magickal breakthroughs if you are patient enough, and still enough to listen.
Today, I am going to try to share with you my version of the Tamerian-Egyptian creation story since this is my path; and then attempt to give you a few things you can instantly pick up and apply to your personal practice. I love this story! Remember, this is my version of it from gleaning through many many mythology texts, so if you will give me the gift of your time...I would appreciate it!
“In a time before time when the universe as we know it did not exist; before my Goddess Isis breathed there was nothing but Chaos. Everything was a watery void without true structure or form. All the elements mingled together in a big dark watery marsh, and so it was for eons and eons. The name of that primordial mass was NUN, yes later he would exist as a God but before he became he existed only as the potentiality of all things.
From this watery blob a lotus flower raised its head, it was strong, its fragrance was pure, its petals were abundant, and it was filled with life. From its roots eight frogs croaked and sang while the God Ra, manifested as his first form ATUM the beautiful divine child sitting in the heart of the lotus flower. When he was born, the universe was greeted with light for the very first time (and this is how light came into being). The frogs sang a beautiful song for his appearance and in return Atum-Ra named them and thus divided all the elements (with the naming of something it changes from chaos to be-ing). Hehu and Hehut were the first, they were fire and life. Kerh and Kerhet were named, and they were night and chaos. The final pair of frogs took on the nature of Atum-Ra and became NUN, the primordial force which had given Ra his existence, and for this reason NUN is the parent of the great sun-god even though it was Atum-Ra who gave him form and named him. The last frog was named ANUM who became part of the soul of Ra, and though he can take on many shapes, it is in this aspect that Ra rules supreme. Anum once named, gives birth to the Moon Khonsu, the vainest of the Gods.
Now you must understand, heaven did not exist yet, and the earth had not come into being either so when the divine child Atum wanted to step down from his lotus flower there was no where for him to go. So Atum-Ra transformed himself into a new aspect Khepera, the scarab beetle. When he did this, he worked “his greatest spell yet” (The Pyramid Texts) which granted him the power of creation itself and Khepera “knew that this was right” (Pyramid texts), and in this rightness he was granted and given the spirit-form of the Goddess MAAT, who is justice and honor, correct thought and behaviors. It is through speaking, his own secret name, that Ra created the Universe.
So, Ra in the form of Khepera began to utilize the power of the Scarab and he gathered the watery mass and spoke over it and created new things, everything he spoke became form. After he had done this, he returned once again to the form of the Atum Ra took his manhood in his hand and emitted two further gods from his semen which lay upon the marsh. These became the God SHU who is air, and the Goddess TEFNUT who is moisture. When Atum-Ra took in all that he had done, he saw beauty all around him and he was moved so much that he began to cry. From his tears were born reptiles, and all creeping things, then animals, fish and birds, until at last men and women came into being. Some texts say that at this point Ra had filled all of creation with his presence and forms of light and life…but he was not done, he transformed once again! He became KHNUM.
As the form of KHNUM Ra made the bodies of women and men upon a potter’s wheel. As Ra manifested himself more and more, his voice became a separate entity and manifested as the God THOTH, the measurer of time, the teacher and mentor of the Gods and Goddesses, who is responsible for many births of divinity. THOTH became the minister to RA and through using the magickal name of RA that he commanded all that needed to be done, he regulated the seasons, he numbered the days, it is from him we have the concept of time and calendars. Then he transformed to a Baboon and on that night he invented the art of writing, and became the first master of the magic arts and the teacher of the mystics.
The tasks of creation began to be taken over by PTAH, the divine architect and personification of the face of RA, and the ram-headed KHNUM. PTAH formed the solid beneath us, and the vaporous above while KHNUM at the potter’s wheel, formed all the animals and the birds that lived between them. Because of his task, KHNUM became regarded as the source of life and was worshipped at the waters of the sacred Nile. After a while, KHNUM became exhausted by his work of molding the physical bodies of each and every living creature and got frustrated calling out for help. THOTH, being ever wise, suggested that he include inside every female creature a miniature potters wheel in her belly so that they could reproduce themselves without KHNUM having to go to the trouble of completing this task for them. So he did. Thus women, posses the same power as the God himself….the power of creation.
Apparently while Ra had been off busy creating the Universe, Shu and Tefnut had been busy “getting it on” because once they had bodies they found that there was something that came with it…lust, and the law of nature that dictates that bodies must mingle and produce offspring. Their children were GEB, god of the solid earth and NUT, goddess of the sky. However, when Ra found out that Shu had mated with Tefnut he was infuriated because apparently he had wanted the lady for himself and while he was out working they had acted upon their mutual desire. So, he decided to separate them by having SHU trample his own son GEB until he became all the land masses in the world, the contours of his body formed the hills, valleys, mountain ranges, deserts and fertile pastures. NUT was sent soaring upwards to cover the sky, and she became the deity that formed the firmament and provided rain. Stars adorn her body, her fingers support her arched body in the east, and the tips of her toes dwell in the west, and even now she remains above us still as a celestial body (now called the atmosphere).
Every evening as RA assumes the form of ATUM as the setting sun, Nut swallows him whole and he spends the night within her body only to be re-born as KHEPERA from her womb every morning. Thus Nut is sometimes thought or called the “true mother of Ra”. Even after all of this Ra’s jealousy remained, and so he cursed NUT saying that even though Geb had filled her womb with life that she would be unable to bear children upon any day or night of the year. The Goddess was full, ripe, and ready to burst…but there was no relief to be had. She was in perpetual labor, and her cries were heard throughout the universe and all of the Gods knew of her cruel punishment and were scared of Ra. Except for THOTH, who in all his wisdom thought long and hard upon the matter……………..(TO BE CONTINUED NEXT BLOG)
FACTS and TIPS:
1. Ra is a sun deity, He has many titles, but when you start at the beginning it is easier to learn where he got them from, and why! Order, Order, Order, would be the word that is associated with RA. (Though I am sure he would help you organize a closet he would probably be happier helping you with a BIG project!)
2. The Lotus is a sacred flower to the Egyptians and a symbol of the sun. Every night the lotus flower closes and sinks underwater, and every morning it rises and opens up again. In Egyptian mythology the color of the lotus flower is mentioned often, when reading Egyptian stories look to see what color they tell you the flower is to add some more layers of spirit reading to your learning house!
3. When you are starting a creative endeavor Ra would be a great God to work with! ATUM Ra, would be the title you would use when you just are at the very "I have an idea!" phase. Remember he is a divine child in this phase think of it as like working with your inner child, yet smarter!
4. Frogs are sacred in Egypt,(study the symbolism of the frog to get a bit more in depth here) Hehu is the Element of fire , Hehut is life (many times you give the gift of a frog to a mother for a newborn baby as a good omen, I love giving egyptian frogs to babies at wiccanings!) Kerh is night and Kerhet represents chaos. Nun is the potentiality of all things, and Anum is the soul of Ra. From all of these facts you can gather information about Egyptian religion, how form and creating is so much more important than potentiality and chaos and how you have a body and a soul and yes they believe they are separate. How essential it is to realize that chaos exists it is not BAD, per se...but Gods and Goddesses in this path constantly battle, and re-form it to conform to their will. (Sounds alot like the Wiccan definition of witch does it not?)
5. Khonsu is the God of the moon. So it seems not all moons are divinely feminine? Does this image worry you that of the moon being male? Did you know that we can still find bits and pieces of dark moon rituals to Khonsu? I still haven't figured out if the Egyptian women participated in blood magick with the moon invoking Khonsu; if you know shoot me an email!
6. Ra/Khepera is the scarab beetle image, it has a name! KHEPERA, it is said over and over that the personality of this beetle is to work, and create something from what appears to be nothing! I bet KHEPERA would make a killing on Etsy!
7. SHU is the God of the Air. TEFNUT is the Goddess of Moisture or water. So now you have two deities you invoke in the quarters of your circle if you want! Or you could ask them to teach you about the mysteries of these elements, or if you are having an issue in one of these elements...guess who you invoke?
8. MAAT is the Goddess of justice and honor these things are associated with correct thoughts and behaviour to the Egyptians! So before you do that revenge spell, or go out to "defend yourself" from those mean evil witches one town over...maybe you should evoke MAAT!
9. THOTH measures time, well in modern terms we would say he was a historian or archivist, or possibly someone in archeology? Hey if you are interested in any of these fields guess who would be really happy if you chose to invoke him? His personality is that of a teacher and mentor, he created writing! Wow it seems he could help you if you need help writing blogs, papers, publishing a book! He can help you uncode myths, because he teaches them! He is the master of Magick, he commands it and knows all secrets of it...as long as he has existed I bet he knows some doozies of what you SHOULD and SHOULD NOT do! He is also wise, funny and clever and very sympathetic to your human feelings and emotions (but this is the subject you will figure out in the second part of the blog) I bet he can think of creative ways to approach a spell...huh, now this GOD seems like a must know for any Egyptian Pagan student, or witch!
10. KHNUM has the head of a ram and is the God of creation, or people who make pottery! He also has to do with reproduction it seems! There are stories in other texts that claim he also can repair you when you feel broken or shattered...so if you have gone through some rough stuff...call out to KHNUM, he is the God who can show you how the light shines better through all your cracks!
11. PTAH is the divine architect and the face of RA. Do you think that means that the Golden statue you have of RA is really PTAH? Hmmmmmmm. I bet if you study architecture or possibly the universe as a physicist PTAH would be the God you would really jive with! I invoke him as one of the Memphis triad Gods in the middle of my circles!
12. GEB is the name of the earth in the Egyptian pantheon not Gaia! The earth is male to the Egyptians, so the energy is completely different than most Wiccan paths, so when you ground and draw up energy in this path remember you are drawing up male energy not female, talk to him feel his pores, listen to him, love him well! NUT is the Sky, the celestial heavens, always stretched over you like an umbrella of protection. The sky in the Egyptian path (and in our real world) is always changing, shifting, and giving birth to new things...thus it must be female! So the next time you look up at the starry sky say Hi Nut! I know she would like that.
REFERENCES: An Egyptian Book of Shadows by Jocelyn Almond, Egyptian Mythology by Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Gods and Goddesses by Henry Barker, Circle of Isis by Ellen Canon Reed, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts by R. O. Faulkner, The Egyptian Coffin Texts by James P. Allen.