Egyptian Cosmology in Short
Most people who study Ancient Egypt or those involved in the Kemetic Faith or Spirituality, actually do not know the cosmologies. The cosmologies are probably the most important aspect of understanding Ancient Egypt/Kemet.
Kemetic Cosmology comes from an older and more ancient place. We have recently found that Nabta Playa in Nubia is much older than Egypt (6,000 bc) and the Megaliths there are a precursor to the Giza Plateau. Recently, we have seen that the Megaliths in Southern Africa are up to 100,000 years old and important to these Megaliths that act as a calender are ancient Horus carvings. See Micheal Tellinger’s Book – Temples of the African Gods.
Often overlooked in Egypt/Khemet is the God Khnemu. Khnemu is actually the earliest God of Kemet – Pharoah Khufu named himself after him – he was actually Khufu Khemenu. After him – his Sons replaced their names with Ra.
Here is a section from The Legend of the Destruction of Mankind
Then the Aged One himself (i.e., Ra) embraced (?) the god Nu, and spake unto the gods who came forth in the east of the sky, “Ascribe ye praise to the god, the Aged One, from whom I have come into being. I am he who made the heavens, and I (set in order [the earth, and created the gods, and] I was with them for an exceedingly long period; ‘then was born the year and ………. but my soul is older than it (i.e., time). It is the Soul of Shu, it is the Soul of Khnemu (?), it is the Soul of Heh, it is the Soul of Kek and Kerh (i.e., Night and Darkness), it is the Soul of Nu and of Ra, it is the Soul of Osiris, the lord of Tettu , it is the Soul of the Sebak Crocodile-gods and of the Crocodiles, it is the Soul of every god [who dwelleth] in the divine Snakes, it is the Soul of Apep in Mount Bakhau (i.e., the Mount of Sunrise), and it is the Soul of Ra which pervadeth the whole world.”
Khnemu appears earlier in the Famine Text in the Third Dynasty – when Kemet is Plagued by Famine and Imhotep guides Djoser to pay attention to Khnemu. See Famine Text.
At some point Khnemu is replaced with Ra – However, the cosmology is basically the same.
I wanted to include the following blurb from a blog because it interesting and requires further research:
Of the Egyptian triad of primal creative deities (PtahTanen, Khnum and Herchef) the god Khnum comes closest to the Hebrew picture of the primal deity as creative artist. Khnum is a ram-headed god whose cult originated in Elephantine. He was like YHWH, a potter in creation who shaped men like a potter shapes with clay upon a wheel (the Hebrew picture of YHWH ‘loyim as primal potter is shown in Jeremiah 18:2-4). In Memphite theology Ptah, in his association with Khnum, is a dwarf spirit chief of the nine creative cosmic spirits collectively referred to as Khnum (“the potters”). The nine Khnum spirits are represented in statuettes with muscular bodies, bowed legs, long arms and big heads.
According to Memphite theology Ptah, assisted by the Khnum spirits, shaped the world and men like a potter shapes clay on wheel, thus, the dwarfs are often represented as earthenware elves. In the association of Khnum spirit with clay or earth, as medium of their creative expression, they are; often represented as dwelling underground, like artisans in subterranean workshops bring things to life from earthenware material; in the “womb of the earth.” The idea of subterranean workshop of creative dwarf spirits taken to be “primal potters” is widespread. The Chinese worshiped Pan Ku, Phoenician sailors revered dwarf statuettes. Creative dwarf spirits were associated with Tvashtar the “Modeller,” in the Rig-Veda hymns. “Black dwarfs” are identified as creative spirits in Teutonic mythology.
The highest conception of Ptah the Primal Modeller in Egyptian theology was rather abstract. He was (as already mentioned) the embodiment of the Cosmic Ego and omnipresent demiurgic spirit, creator of all things. All things took shape or emerged from his creative mind.
The writer JohnThomas Didymus is the author of “Confessions of God: The Gospel According to St. JohnThomas Didymus.”( http://www.resurrectionconspiracy.com/ ). If you have found this article interesting please read the article:CREATOR GOD AS SMITH-ARTIFICER: PROMETHEUS AS MESSIAH-SAVIOR FIGURE on his blog: http://johnthomasdidymus.blogspot.com/2010/11/creator-god-as-smith-artificer.html
Not surprising you find here – Khnum modelling men with the assistance of his wife Anquet holding an Ankh.
It is apparent that Khnum and his eight never leave Egyptian Cosmology and Khnum never leaves Nubia. Key to this is creation and what assist in creation. Khnum has eight helpers called the Khnumu. Latter in the Shabaka Stone – Ptah will have eight helpers again. Here is Kemetic Cosmology references in short:
The cosmology of Khmun or Hermopolis is one of the oldest cosmologies. At this point though Khnum and Khmun look closely similiar – one reflects the creative nubian deity and the other reflects a place – The City of Eight. However – The Hieroglyphic for the Khnum is a Jar to hold water or Nun and the City of Eight also contains this Jar.
There are several cosmology themes but existing with variations of weather one, several or different combinations of the the following primordial dieties Amen/Amenet, Nun/Nunet, Kuk/Kukhet, Heh/Hehet. Tuhuti was called their father is some text and Maat their mother in another text. In this cosmology some event explosion took place that caused the combining of the eight
References are the “lake of two knives”, “island of flames”.
The cosmology of Khmun then combines with the cosmology of Yonew, Helipolis or On. In this cosmology precreation is not explicityl stated but Atum is created in some event with Nun and steps on the primieval hill and begins creation.
The next cosmology is that of Menefer/memphite/Hikuptah Cosmology. Here Ptah takes the role of Atun and embodies in his mouth the Eight and creates the Ennead. From the Shabaka Stone – which is a later rewriting of the Memphite Coslomogy – Ptah (c. 700 BC) he is altogether identified as eightprimitive forms of God; the first is ‘Ptah who is upon the great (i.e. primeval) place’, meaning the original spirit. Then Ptah-Niu – the waters ‘who was the father of Atum’, next is Ptah-Naunet – ‘the Primeval Mother who gave birth to Atum. Then ‘Ptah the very great one who is the heart and tongue of the Divine Compay’. Unfortunately several of the names have been lost to us, except Nefertum, the lotus. source:http://www.philae.nu/akhet/NetjeruP.html
From the Middle Kingdom Amen Hotep III begins the worship of Amun Re His Son Amen Hotep IV begins the worship of Aten Re combining older dieties into Aten. He takes this one step further by defacing the names of the other dieties.
Amen Tut Ankh (Tut Ankh Amun) restores the old religion Horemhab begins the persecution of the Aten priesthood
Amun Ra becomes the popular Dietity of the working people in Waset/Thebes. Amun is “that beloved God who hearkens to humble entreaties, who stretches forth his hand to the humble, who saves the weak”, “who hears prayer, conies at the voice of the distressed humble one, who gives breath to him that is wretched”, and Re-Harakhte is called “august, beloved, merciful God who hears him that prays, who hears the humble entreaties of him that calls upon him, who comes at the voice of him that utters his name.”
Amun Ra has 777 ears and milions of Eyes. He becomes the hidden one that we pray and hears our prayers and appears when we need him.
The Shabaka stone contains aspects of all of the Cosmologies. I asked Kemetic Professor Mfundishi Jhutyms about the problems of the different strains of cosmology and he has an excellent metaphor that described helps. Basically, if a car runs in back of a bus – and there are three witnesses. Each witness will tell his story from his vantage point. But the fact is that the car hit the bus. So there is at least one agreement. Here life comes out of Nun/Nunet. I have earlier talked about Ptah and the Eight.
From other sources on cosmology
J. Hill’s website- http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/ogdoad.html
There are four central creation myths. The first held that the world was born from a cosmic egg created by the gods of the Ogdoad. It was invisible as the sun had not yet been born. When it opened, it revealed the “bird of light”, an aspect of the sun god Re (occasionally the egg was said to contain air, associated with Amun and Amaunet). Alternatively, the egg was laid by a celestial goose called the Gengen Wer (the primeval goose who was associated with Amun who took this form as a creator god). When Re hatched from the egg, he created the world and everything in it. The second version says that the egg was laid by an ibis, (a bird sacred to Thoth). However, the cult of Thoth developed after the original myth of the Ogdoad, so it is probable that this story was an attempt to incorporate Thoth into the pre-existing Ogdoad (who were sometimes known as “the souls of Thoth”).
The third myth states that a lotus flower emerged from the waters of “the Sea of the Two Knives” (a lake near to the temple in Hermopolis). The petals opened to reveal Re who then created the world. The fourth myth is similar, except it held that a scarab beetle (Khepri – the symbol of the rising sun) was revealed when the petals opened. The scarab transformed into a young boy whose tears formed the first human beings. The boy is generally considered to be Nefertum (“young Atum“) but once Re and Horus had been merged as Re-Horakhty the boy was sometimes considered to be the infant Horus.
The Hermopolitans claimed that their theory of creation was older than any other in Egypt and that it was the Ogdoad who gave birth to both the sun and Atum . It is also interesting to note the similarity between the Ogdoad and the description of the creation of the world found in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament).
copyright J Hill 2010
The Egyptian Gods and the Natural Elements
According to the Hermopolitan view the eight primordial deities existed in four pairs of male and female, each associated with a specific aspect or element of the pre-creation: Nun (or Nu) and Naunet (water); Heh and Hauhet, Infinity; Kek and Kauket; Darkness; Amun and Amaunet, Hiddenness. These original ‘elements’ were believed to be inert yet to contain the potential for creation. James Hoffmeier has shown that interesting similarities exist between these elements and the conditions list immediately prior to the creation account in the biblical book of Genesis. In Egypt, however, the members of the Ogdoad were regarded as distinct divine entities and their names were grammatically masculine and feminine to reflect the equatin creation with sexual union and birth. They were called the “fathers” and “mothers” of the sun god, since this deity was the focal point of ongoing creation in the Hermopolitan world view – as he was elsewhere.
Just as the beginning of the annual season of growth has marked in Egypt by the Nile’s receding imundation and emergence of high points of land from the falling river, so the Egyptians viewed the original creation event as occurring when the primordial mound of earth (see Tatenen) rose from the waters of the First Time. It was said that a lotus blossom (see Nefertem) then rose from the waters or from the same primeval mound; and it was from this flower that the young sun god emerged bringing light into the cosmos, and with it the beginning time and all further creation.
The Power of the Sun God; The Heliopolitan View of the Egyptian Gods
Heliopolis, the chief center of solar worship, produced a somewhat different mythic system built around the so-called ennead or “group of nine” deities which consisted of the sun god and eight of his descendants. The Heliopolitan theologians naturally stressed the role of the sun god in their creation stories which focus, as a result, not so much on the intert aspects of preexistence but on the dynamic aspects of the resultant creation itself. The form of the sun god usually associated with this creation was Atum, who was sometimes said to have existed within the primeval waters “in his egg” as a way of explaining the origin of the god. At the moment of creation Atum was said to have been born out of the primordial flood as “he who came into being himself”, thus becoming the source of all further creation. The god next produced two children, Shu (air) and Tefnut (moisture), from himself. Several versions of the story exist, but in all of them Atum’s children are produced through the exhalation of the god’s body fluids or mucus – either through the metaphor of masturbation, spitting or sneezing.
In return, this first pair produced their own children, Geb (earth) and Nut (Sky), who took their respective places below and above their parents, giving the creation its full spatial extent. Geb and Nut then produced the deities Osiris and Isis, Seth and Nephthys who viewed from one perspective represented the fertile land of Egypt and the surrounding desert, so that the key elements of the Egyptian universe were completed at this time. Frequently the god Horus, son and heir of Osiris and the deity most closely associated with kingship, was added to this group, thus supplying the link between the physical creation and societal structures. All these aspects, however, were viewed as simply extensions of the original coming into being of the sun god who lay at the heart of this world view and who was thus ‘the father of all’ and ‘ruler of the gods’.
While the scholars of Heliopolis focused mainly on the emergence and development of the sun god, Atum, the priests of nearby Memphis looked at creation from the perspective of their own god Ptah. As the god of metalworkers, craftsmen and architects it was natural that Ptah was viewed as the great craftsman who made all things. But there was also another, much deeper, link between Ptah the creation of the world which set the Memphite view of creation apart. The so-called Memphite Theology which is preserved on the Shabaka Stonein the Egyptian collection of the British Musem reveals this important aspect of the Memphite theological system. While the inscription dates to the 25th dynasty it was copied from a much earlier source, apparently of the early 19th dynasty, though its principles may have dated to even earlier times. The text alludes to the Heliopolitan creation account centred on the god Atum, but goes on to claim that the Memphite god Ptah preceded the sun god and that it was Ptah who created Atum and ultimately the other Egyptian gods and all else ‘through his heart and through his tongue’. The expression alludes to the conscious planning of creation and its execution through rational thought and speech, and this story of creation ex nihilo as attributed to Ptah by the priests of Memphis is the earliest known example of the so-called ‘logos’ doctrine in which the world is formed through a god’s creative speech. As such it was one of the most intellectual creation myth to arise in Egypt and in the ancient world as a whole.
Like Atum, however, Ptah was also viewed as combining male and female elements within himself. This is seen in early texts, and in the latest period of Egyptian history the name of the god was written acrophonically as pet-ta-heh or p(et)+t(a)+h(eh) as though he were supporting the sky (pet) above the earth (ta) in the manner of the Heh deities, but also bridging and combining the female element of the sky and the male element of the earth in the anarogynous manner of the primordial male-female duality Ptah-Naunet.
Egyptian Gods in Mythic Variants
As much as these three systems of comsogony and theogony differ in their details and in the stress placed upon differing deities by their own cults, it is clear that they all share a similar approach to creation. Although the differing approaches were apparently never combined into one unified myth, stories existed for many of the individual myths which fitted into the same overall ramework. In the stories stressing the solar origin of creation, for example, we find variants which proclaimed that the sun god came into being as a hawk or falcon, or as a sphoenix, in the form of a child, a scarab bettle, or some other creatures, but these all originated from the primeval waters or from the mound which rose from them. There are also variants of the manner in which the monad (the prime, indivisible entity) is said to have produced the rest of creation – a Middle Kingdom text found on coffins at el-Bersheh states of the ‘All-lord’: ‘I brought into being the gods from my sweat, and men are the tears of my eye’; but these do not differ radically from those of Heliopolis considered above. To some extent all these stories appear as kaleidoscopic variations of core mythic elements, and may indicate an effort on the part of the Egyptian theologians to incorporate deities which had arisen in different parts of Egypt, or at different times, into existing mythic frameworks. It is often the nature of the creator deities and the basis of their power which is at issue in the varying stories of the origin and rule of the Egyptian gods.