Gods and Goddesses


Role: Goddess of the sky

Appearance: Woman with a round pot on her head and vulture wings; or a woman covered with stars, bending over the earth with her hands and feet on the eastern and western horizons, often with Shu and Geb beneath her; or as a pig with the stars as her piglets.

Relations with other gods: Geb (husband), Shu (father), Tefnut (mother), Osiris and Set (sons), Isis and Nephthys (daughters)

In ancient myths, Geb (the earth) and his wife Nut (the sky) were snuggled up to each other so closely that there was no space between them for the sun to travel. So Re, the god of the sun, ordered their father Shu (god of the air) to come between them, separating the pair with a violent storm. Shu held Nut up away from the ground to create air space in which the sun could travel. Darkness came daily, whenever Shu let let her down, but every morning she was lifted off of Geb all over again.

Some myths tell of Re riding his sun boat over Nut's back each day, rising up over the eastern horizon and sailing all the way to the west. Other stories have Nut swallowing the sun each night and then giving birth to it again each day. Either way, the continuous "death" and "rebirth" of the sun tied Nut to the religious beliefs of new life after death. Nut and Re are also involved in a myth that explains the moon phases and tells how the Egyptians changed the calendar to a 365-day year (instead of the original 360).

Nut is frequently pictured in the center of the chest on a mummiform coffin, her two arms spread out with vulture wings. The inner lid of a sarcophagus and the ceilings of tombs were often painted either Nut herself or a starry sky to represent the heavens above.

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