ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian deities: The sky goddess Nut
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The sky goddess Nut

Nut     Nut was the Heliopolitan goddess of the sky, protector mother deity of the dead:
O Osiris Pepi,
Nut, your mother, spreads herself above you,
She conceals you from all evil,
Nut protects you from all evil
M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.1 p.46.
She was the consort of the earth god Geb, the heavens above the land of creation, while Naunet remained the heavens above Nun, the primordial waters surrounding it. Nut gave birth to Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys.
    In Hatshepsut's inscription her realm is described as
... the Two Lands, the kingdom of the South and the North, to whom he hath given that which the sun encompasses, that which Keb (i.e. Geb) and Nut encompass.
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, § 285
Nut propped up by Shu and eight Heh gods

Nut in the shape of a cow propped up by Shu and eight Heh gods
Shrine of Tutankhamen
L. E. Lipiello, 2004; Symbolic Perceptions of New Kingdom Watercraft: Building Boats from Gods, p.13

    Nut had a number of affinities with Hathor, who was considered to be her daughter in some traditions.
    At times she is depicted as a cow, at times as a woman forming an arch above the earth. Sometimes the path of the sun is shown: being born, wandering to the mouth of the goddess and making a nightly journey through her body to be reborn - Nut being the mother of Re. Her body is sometimes propped up by Shu or other gods.
    She also supported the stars. Thutmose III described his offerings to Amen:
they shone over the (sacred) lake; the Two Lands were flooded with their brightness, like the stars in the body of Nut...
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, § 164
    The deceased, in the Old Kingdom the kings only, aspired to rise to the heavens and become stars
This Unas comes to you, O Nut,
This Unas comes to you, O Nut,
He has consigned his father to the earth,
He has left Horus behind him,
Grown are his falcon wings,
Plumes of the holy hawk;
His power has brought him,
His magic has equipped him?
The sky goddess replies:
Make your seat in heaven,
Among the stars of heaven,
For you are the Lone Star, the comrade of Hu!
You shall look down on Osiris,
As he commands the spirits,
While you stand far from him;
You are not among them,
You shall not be among them!
M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.1 pp.32f.
    Nut was at times seen as being separated from the earth by waters. A ferryman had to row the dead across in his boat:
Sky's ferryman, in peace,
Nut's ferryman, in peace,
Ferryman of gods, in peace
Unas has come to you
That you may ferry him in this boat in which you ferry the gods
M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.1 p.270.

© October 2005
Updates: October 2009

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