Egyptian Creation Myths
“The whole of Egyptian civilization was organized upon myth.” John Anthony West

To most people in the modern world, mythology seems to have little significance, little more than the undeveloped state of mind of our ancient brothers and sisters. However, “myth is a deliberately chosen means for communicating knowledge.” Myth is not children’s stories, or made up ways to explain an unknown universe, they are the records of ancient knowledge and science.ii When one begins to study ancient myth and religious texts, the first observation is the similarity of all the stories around the world. The similarity shows their root in some form of truth. The fact that historical events appear is usually just to help give it a frame of reference for the reader at the time. The historical fact is less important than what the myth is trying to tell us. Every part of the myth has key meaning, veiled in symbolism. There is a reason for that number of thieves, wives or days. From the understanding of the myths we can gain a deeper connection to our own wisdom that resides within our heart (for more information please read the chapter Fairy Tales).

“Egyptologists know everything about Egyptian religion, everything except its soul.” Jean Capart, Belgian Egyptologist

The creation of the universe is a very important part of the mythology (knowledge) of the Ancient Egyptians. Egypt had several different creation myths, but four are seen as holding major significance. Each of the four myths is named after the Egyptian city from which that myth was localized: The Ennead of Heliopolis, Ogdoad of Hermopolis, Ptah at Memphis, and a special myth at Luxor. While the four creation myths contain similarities, they are remarkably different from each other, containing different Neteru. Today if we take a copy of Snow White out of the library, we know that it will contain the same basic plot lines. There will be 7 dwarfs not 12 giraffes. The fact that an important event like the creation of the universe has completely different stories has led to odd interpretations. Egyptologists claim that each story was the basis of a completely different center of worship that were rivals of each other. Depending on the most dominant priests at any particular time, that particular creation myth would reign in Egypt. As Jeremy Naydler so eloquently writes, “These stories are not rivals, but rather each story articulates different aspects of the unfolding of spirit into matter.”iv Egyptian creation myths are not separate; they are interlocked. They each provide a different view, or focus, on the creation of the universe and earth. The Egyptians decided that rather than one long story encompassing all of the different elements, they broke it up into more manageable parts. No one myth is any more important than any other, but each is needed in order to have the complete information. Egyptian creation mythology is very deep and mystical. An important note is that as the creation myths are provided, I will also be including information of the individual Neteru.

1 Heliopolis

The first Creation myth comes from Annu (On or Heliopolis) and is known as the myth of the Ennead for the nine Neteru that are created from Atum-Ra. Lucie Lamy has shown that the myth of the nine may in fact help to explain the entire process of not only the solar system but also the creation and birth of human babies (see Number).

The myth begins with the dark abysmal waters of Nun. Nun stretches everywhere, endlessly. Before there was an earth, time or the Neteru all there was Nun. The Pyramid Texts claim, “Nun exists before the sky existed, before the earth existed.” Nun is usually portrayed as dark, formless, or inert. Nun is that from which the universe came, the potential for existence symbolized by the formless fluidity of water. This is the primordial ocean, without shape or definition. Before there was a yes/no, high/low, light/shadow, thus before the number two, there was only Nun. Nun represents the number one and the All. Just as the waves of an ocean are not separate from the water, so too is nothing separate from Nun. Nun would have no shape, just as water has no shape taking the form of that which contains it.

Mystically Nun would be seen as the building block of all that exists. The first tenet of the Hermetic Kyballion is that “All is Mind.” When forms began to appear from the primordial ocean, they came as a thought in the heart (mind) of Neter (God). This would be likened to a human dream state where in our mind we create different objects and characters, or create a dream out of a previous dream. We create the forms in our dream that we believe to be real, so too is Nun (God) having numerous dreams. Nothing is separate from the primordial ocean of Nun just as a wave is not separate from the Atlantic Ocean. It is a part of it. In the creation of matter, Nun uses the ocean and Cosmic Mind to Nun is found at the beginning of all Egyptian creation myths and is the only true constant within them all. This primordial ocean is also a key component of most of the creation stories of modern religions. That being understood, the actual method that the creator uses is explained in the rest of the myth.

During this primordial condition there is sometimes shown a serpent of many coils. This is a manifestation of something out of the watery nothing. This serpent is called Nehebkau “provider of life energies” in the Pyramid Texts. The snake’s coils symbolize the sleeping kundalini in us that awaits arousal by our spiritual work. As the kundalini serpent’s coils are holding the energies needed for our transformation, so too would Nehebkau be seen as the potential energies for manifestation of all life.


The Egyptians referred to the creative principle that could manifest within these energies as Atum, “the All and Nothing.” Atum is the Neteru who can activate the energies inherent in Nun. Atum is not different from Nun or the serpent, but is a part of them both as only they exist. “The sky had not been created, the earth had not yet been created, the children of the earth and the reptile had not yet been fashioned…I Atum was one by myself…there existed no other who worked with me.”vii Prior to Atum there was no life or death, just inert blackness that in later times was associated with Osiris.

At the beginning Atum claimed in the Coffin Texts, “I was alone in the waters, in a state of inertness before I had found anywhere to stand or sit, before Heliopolis had been formed.” Eventually Atum was found inside the coils of the serpent, thus in someway had to become separate from Nun and the serpent. It is claimed that Atum “projected” himself out of the waters of Nun. He was the original god of light, a figure that latter became associated with, then overtaken by Ra and Horus. Atum is sometimes shown freeing himself from the serpent’s coils by changing into a cat or a mongoose in order to kill the serpent. A tree springs up outside of the serpent’s coils. The world tree is an original symbol for the cross and the ankh. Everything that exists came from Atum, as Atum in some way came from Nun. Paradoxically since everything that exists comes from Atum, then each time something is created so too is Atum created. He is the combined act that not only brings himself into existence, but also everything else at the same time. While Atum is depicted as a male in the texts (showing that Atum creatively uses the male energy of action like one who plants a seed) he is actually a he/she, a blend of feminine and masculine parts (for everything that is created has these parts).

Atum is also related to the ideas of world ages and precession (see Chapter World Age). In time a form of Atum, called Tem or Tum, began to symbolize the west and the setting sun. This end of the journey of the sun is also the beginning, for it will rise again the next day. In this form he can be depicted as an old man leaning on a stick, similar to Tarot Card Nine. He is associated with the scarab, primordial hill, Benben, and Ra. The way Atum creates will be described below.


The principle of becoming or of transforming was known as Khepera, represented by a scarab beetle. Khepera represents the rising sun each morning, which is a reborn or transformed sun from the night before. The rise of Khepera (a form of Atum, young Horus), leads to the birth of Ra (sun). The scarab in order to give birth (transform) lays its eggs in a ball of dung, which it rolls about wherever it goes. Egyptologists claim the symbol of the scarab for Khepera is because it rolls this ball (which looks like the sun) during the day. In truth the symbol is representative of the alchemic transformative process. The light will be found in our own dung, our own ugly waste products. Rather than ignore them, Khepera wants us to explore, use and transform them to something wonderful. Just as the night sun is to be transformed into Ra each day, we too are tying to follow this teaching. It is the reason that in Egyptian texts like the Book of Caverns, Khepera is associated with the beginning and ending of the text. Our astral gold will be found in our own darkness. Most other ancient cultures used a butterfly instead of a scarab, as a larva worm transforms into a beautiful flying insect. Khepera is also symbolized as an amulet or a green beetle that is placed on the heart during the opening of the mouth ceremony. Khepera is also associated with Heru-Khuti, the Sphinx at Giza.

Primordial Hill/Phoenix/Benben
The becoming of Khepera by Atum was symbolized as either a primeval mound, a bennu bird (phoenix) or as a Benben stone. As a primordial hill, Atum was seen as the first land rising from the waters of the ocean. Egypt itself was often thought of as this land, and most every Egyptian temple had a raised platform in the center representing this first hill. Some texts claim that the primordial hill was the area of Giza where the Sphinx and Pyramids now rest. The rising of the primordial hill was also symbolically repeated each year as the land reappeared following the flooding of the Nile. The primordial hill is a representation of light out of the dark waters. This should not be confused with the rising sun, as the material universe had not been created. It could more be seen as the spark that will bring light. The hill is the energy behind what will become all matter, not the matter itself. From this hill papyrus or plant life sprang forth. All Hypostyle Halls in temples are representative of this first plant life that sprang forth from the hill, or the sense that the energy of the hill would be used to grow things. It is the papyrus swamp where Horus, Moses and Jesus were all raised in secrecy.

This hill was often associated with the famed Benben Stone or the bennu bird (Phoenix) which was a bird of light that came down to a reed that washed on the shore of the hill. The bird brings light from the darkness and is another symbol of spiritual transformation. The Phoenix is the bird of rebirth and is said to live for 500 years at the end of which it cremates itself on a funeral pyre only to rise from its own ashes. In some texts the Phoenix comes to rest on the sacred Benben stone, a form of the primordial hill. This stone was believed to be an actual physical object and was claimed to hold the “hiddenness of the Duat (underworld).” Paintings and texts show the Benben as pyramid shaped. The Benben was a stone that fell to the earth from heaven, and was believed to be the first piece of solid matter created by Atum. The Benben stone was put on display atop the obelisk at Heliopolis and once a year a pilgrimage was made to it similar to the black meteorite stone at Mecca. The Egyptian word Ben is connected to flowing out, especially to male semen and is a reason many equate the obelisk as a phallic symbol.x Some suggest the physical object was a meteor, which in some way spawned life on earth. Or it could be a metaphor to show that the seeding of the earth came from outer space. All initiates in Egypt sought what the Bennu bird represented (light) as described in passages of the Book of the Dead. Atum at times was also claimed to have laid an egg which created Ra.

With the emergence of Atum in a number of forms, light is finally able to be created. This principle is symbolized by Ra. Often the three beings (Atum-Khepera-Ra) are merged into one deity; Khepera is the rising sun, Ra the noon sun and Atum the setting sun. They are separate, but the same. Ra is usually symbolized as the sun, but this is not entirely correct. Ra is not the sun but the principle behind which makes the sun shine. The sun itself is merely the eye of Ra or the sun disk Aten. The average Egyptian viewed the time of the day as morning, midday, evening and night according to the sun’s journey across the sky. It was not just the sun, it was a spiritual object and represented the Supreme Being. The sun was believed each night to be swallowed by the goddess Nut, and reborn the next morning. The Egyptian priests knew that the sun was not actually swallowed for they understood the science of our solar system, but was used as a metaphor for internal transformation.

Ra is light, that inner part of our being that could shine and bring us back to oneness with Atum and Nun. He shows that just as the sun is needed to sustain all life on earth, so too does the essence of God sustain the existence of everything in the universe. Because of the symbolic importance of this inner fire that is used to reach our True Self, Ra became a key part of daily prayer. In time, Ra’s symbolic nature was lost and instead the sun itself began to be worshiped. The texts want us to connect with our own inner Ra, not the sun. The sun’s energy is male energy, and this must be balanced with female energy. Modern religions were influenced by the later mistakes of Egypt/Sumeria and began to create religions based on the male energy of the sun, rather than the symbolic meaning of the energy behind the sun.

Ra can be depicted as a royal child resting on a lotus (which emerges each day from the swamp to open to the light), as a man with a solar disk on his head, or combined with the falcon Horus, showing the creator is but Horus, our own heart. In the ancient world the sun was often given the symbol of a circle with a dot in the center, which is a representative of the number one. Even at the stage in creation of Ra, though it seems like there are few separate entities, there is still only one. This circle will be needed to create the other numbers (manifestations) through the Vesica Pisces (see Number). Ra travels in two boats: Matet (day) and Semktet (evening). Thus the boats are associated with Maat (truth and order) and Sekhem (personal power).

Atum’s Creation
Atum-Ra is now ready to go past the world of Oneness and move to other numbers in the creative cycle. Since there is only one, there can not be an outer male-female combination yet, so to create Atum must either spit out or masturbate to cause the “seed from the kidneys to come.” Atum creates by uniting his male member with his female half, symbolized by the hand. Ardhanari-Purusha in India also created by masturbation. Something has to be expelled from the being of Atum. In sacred number it will be shown that the only way subsequent numbers can come from the one is for the one to project out a mirror image of itself and create a second circle. The kidneys are the point that Oriental masters claim our energy of creative formation is stored. This spitting or masturbating brings the Neteru Shu and Tefnut into existence. Atum came forth from nothing, created himself and then could create everything else. Anytime we paint, write or build a fence we are tapping into the creative power of Atum. Many mystics relate that the day we as a human stop creating, we stop being.

Shu and Tefnut/Geb and Nut

Shu and Tefnut come from the same essence (Atum-Ra) yet are different due to gender. Atum-Ra splits up into the male and female, or yin and yang principles. Shu is usually thought to represent the air, atmosphere and space, but not space as we know it because there is no physical universe yet. Rather at this stage Shu is the principle through which form can arise. Tefnut represents moisture (water) in her vagina. This moisture is similar to rain that will allow plants to grow, thus the source of vitality. Her symbol is the lioness (power of nature), with a serpent on her crown (kundalini) while holding a papyrus scepter (power of knowledge) and an ankh (life).xiii Some have suggested the elements are represented with Shu (air), Tefnut (water) primordial hill (earth) and Atum (fire). Shu and Tefnut have a sexual union which cause the rest of the Neteru to be born. Thus the physical world can only be born through the physical union of the gods.

Geb (male earth) and Nut (female sky) were born together in loving embrace. The earth was originally united with heaven. The next action was the creation of the world we currently know. This occurred not out of love and sex, but by the splitting apart by Shu of Geb from Nut. This ripping apart of the earth and heaven was felt as great pain. The Chinese creation myth shows how yin (dark) and yang (light) first separated from an original chaotic state of existence. In Summer it was An (male sky) and Ki (feminine earth) uncoupling, while in Genesis God divided the primordial waters into heaven and earth.xiv This action is claimed to have occurred when Ra heard that Geb and Nut wanted to marry. He became enraged and ordered their father Shu between them. Ra forbid Nut from having a child in any month in the 360-day year. This caused the Neteru Tehuti to play the moon in a game of cards to win 1/72nd of each day’s moon light which added up to five extra days. This was added to the 360-day year, and gave Nut the opportunity to give birth to the rest of the Neteru (see calendar).

When the three deities are depicted together, Geb is usually shown resting on his arm and buttock. Geb looks as though he has fallen and is never again looking up at his beloved Nut. This may be a symbol that as each of us falls to earth, we focus only on the earthy realm and seem to lack the strength to rise ourselves up to the realm of spirit. Muata Ashby has also shown that the poses of Geb and Nut are key Yoga postures. Lucie Lamy has also claimed that the twisted position of Geb is similar to the rotation of the earth.xv The image of separation provokes the idea that the world came into existence on the basis of pain. Asian religious traditions speak of life on earth as suffering because we are not connected to the Universal All. It is the separateness that has caused the pain for Geb and Nut, as our separateness from God is the condition of our pain. Thus earthly life is a series of challenges to regain our oneness and let go of suffering.

It is interesting that in most cultures the earth is depicted as feminine, while in Egypt the earth was male. In Egypt all that grew on the earth was related to Isis. It is nature that is feminine, not the earth itself. Resting above the earth is Nut. She is stretched out so that her fingers and toes touch the ground, symbolizing the four cardinal points or four elements that all life on earth is created from. Along her body are the stars of the sky. Each night the sun was swallowed by Nut, which traveled through her body in the region known as the Duat (see Duat) where Ra would fight all of the enemies that would try to stop his rebirth. Each night Ra would win this battle and then be born in the morning from Nut’s vagina. Nut is also depicted in the early stages of the Book of the Dead as two sycamore trees that will provide nourishment to the Afterlife traveler. She became associated with Hathor and the divine cow.

Shu is what has come between the two to separate them. While Geb and Nut were still together there was the idea of “as above so below” due to the connection. His name means “to raise up” and became Atlas in Greek mythology. Shu is represented in human form with a feather and his characteristic gesture of the KA sign. Egyptologists claim that Shu’s KA gesture is needed to hold the sky and earth apart, and should he relax this pose then heaven and earth would again unite. However Nut seems to be able to support herself with no need of Shu. Shu uses the KA sign which is the energy that helps bind us to the material world and is the force that keeps the dual forces inside of us from connecting as one. It is Shu who creates the belief of a world of duality, the separation into male and female forms, for at the beginning male and female were together. Shu shows that by the feather he wears (Maat/order) and from the times he is depicted with a baboon head (Tehuti/wisdom) that through wisdom and order one can overcome the appearance of duality and reunite Geb (male) and Nut (female) in our own consciousness.

With Thoth winning the five extra days for the rest of the gods to be born, the Ennead of nine can be complete. Nut gives birth to Wizzar (Osiris) Auset (Isis) Set and Nepthys. Each has a special region of the cosmos associated with them Wizzar (Orion) Auset (Sirius) Set (Ursa Major) and Nepthys (sky below the horizon). Osiris and Isis gave birth to Heru (Horus).

Myth of Rule
Ra was the first ruler of the new world, the world previous to the one we now live in. The Maya refer to the previous stages of humanity as previous Suns. The Pyramid Texts tell us he governed from the ‘Prince’s Palace’ in Heliopolis. After his morning bath and breakfast, Ra would get into his boat and inspect the twelve provinces of his kingdom (signs of the zodiac) spending an hour in each. As long as Ra remained young, he reigned peacefully over gods and men. The years began to take their toll on him, and the texts eventually depict him as old and feeble. This is the same as the myth in Mexico where Quetzalcoatl became old and feeble. When old age overtook Ra the people he created sensed weakness and plotted against him. It is not fully explained why humans would want to do so. Ra discovered their plans and decided to hurl his divine eye (utchat) against his rebellious subjects in the form of Sekhemet (the lioness form of Hathor).

Sekhemet began to destroy the human race, but it is claimed that Ra’s inherent goodness would not allow the entire human race to be destroyed. Depending on the text he either intervened in the form of a flood or with the help of Tehuti gave her a magic potion of beer and pomegranate juice. Sekhemet thought the drink was blood and drank all of the liquid. She either became too drunk, or bloated from the water to continue killing and fell asleep. When she awoke she no longer wanted to kill and peace again reigned. On the orders of Nun, Nut became a cow and took Ra on her back and raised him high into the sky to form the sun. It was at this time that our present world was created. This myth claims that our present world came after an age of destruction, ushered in by massive flooding. Sekhemet the lioness symbolizes all this, and many like West and Hancock see this a symbol for the precessional age of Leo over 10,000 years ago.xviii In some myths upon rising, Ra ordered the Sekhet-Hotep (field of peace) to be created. One part of it began to grow and became the Sekhet-Aaru (field of growth).

Nut rose with Ra too quickly and became dizzy. She began to shake because she was too high above the earth, and was given four pillars (legs) to hold her up. From then on Ra sailed in his boat from the East to the West during the twelve daylight hours. In the twelve night hours he fought Apop the serpent, which he always defeats and is reborn as a new sun in the morning. Shu succeeded Ra as the King of the earth, but like his father he grew old and abdicated in favour of his son Geb. When Geb took over from Shu he called for the Golden Box of Ra to be brought from the fortress. Into this box Ra had deposited: a rod, a lock of hair, and a uraeus (a crown with the cobra and vulture on it, the sign of kingship). When he opened it a bolt of fire ushered from it killing most of Geb’s followers and greatly burning Geb. Only by applying the lock of hair to his wounds could they be healed. Thus the box contained not only the destructive force, but also the healing power for it. The lock of hair was later thrown into a lake for purification and became a crocodile.xix This story is of course similar to the Ark of the Covenant, which was made of gold and contained: the golden pot of Manna, Aaron’s rod, and the two tablets of the Ten Commandments. Eventually, Geb handed over the reign to his son Osiris. The myths of Osiris, Isis and Horus are less of creation and will be examined in the following chapter.

2 Hermopolis/Khemenu
The second creation myth comes from Hermopolis (Khemenu-City of Eight), opposite the modern town of Tel-Al-Amarna, and is the center of the myth of Tehuti (Thoth in Greek). As in all Creation myths, this one begins with Nun. Tehuti sent forth the Creative sound and brought into being four sets of Neteru in the waters. These eight are known as the Ogdoad and are the opposite qualities that allow the created universe to form. They are depicted as either frogs or serpents, beings that can live on water and on land. They are: Nun (central source) and Naunet (raw material, matter); Kuk (conscious) and Kauket (unconscious); Heh (unendingness) and Hehet (limitlessness); Amun (hidden) and Amunet (manifest). The primordial eight are sometimes seen as the four elements.” The first part of the myth relates to the power of opposites. The third force to bring the opposites together is the voice of Tehuti. It is Tehuti that allows the four pairs of opposites to swim together, where they form the egg from which the goose was born. The goose was able to fly away as the sun, or sometimes the egg breaks to let a lotus rise from the water to birth Ra. Ra now assumes the role of Creator, with Tehuti as heart and tongue. The Navajo have a myth that the earth mother at creation molded the first four pairs of men and women from balls of skin rubbed off different parts of her body.xx Some believe that this myth is far older than the one at Heliopolis.

An interesting component of the primordial eight is that in many books today the names of Amun and Amunet are omitted by scholars. This simple part of the eight, Amun, later became the ruling deity of Luxor/Thebes and was part of a creation myth all of his own. This is a strange phenomenon, one that has not been looked at closely enough. Egyptologists simply add the names of Tehuti and Maat to make up the original eight, ignoring the truth of the Egyptian texts that in fact Amun was just a part of the eight primordials. This skimming over of the truth is not the knowledge of Egypt. In Sumeria they also began with four pairs of gods, but the fourth pair were both male. Without the female it was showing that their entire society was focused on male energy.

Tehuti (Thoth)

Tehuti was the creator of knowledge, wisdom, literature, all arts and sciences, surveying, geometry, astronomy, magic, medicine, music, drawing, writing, hieroglyphs, and was keeper of the divine records and history. He appears during the weighing of the heart to record the judgment of the soul. The Greeks and Islamics believed that he built the Pyramids. His most important teachings were called the Books of Tehuti, which later became the Hermetica. When one is seeking wisdom and knowledge, it is the energy of Tehuti that one must tap into and use. The main symbol of Tehuti was the ibis bird. There were two species of Ibis common in Egypt, one all black and the other a mixture of black and white. The bird was symbolic of this Neteru because it was the first two hermetic colours (black and white), and the fact the bird killed snakes and ate crocodile eggs, both associated with Set. The white plumage of the ibis is the purity of thought with wisdom, truth and righteousness. Tehu is the Egyptian word for ibis, and the work Tekh is one for the heart. At times the hieroglyph of the ibis could be drawn to symbolize the “wisdom of the heart.”xxi Tehuti can also be shown as an ape or baboon. When Hathor had forgotten her true self and was in great need, Tehuti came to help as a baboon, a seemingly ordinary animal. Just as we rarely see wisdom from an average source or average person, Tehuti in this form is bringing wisdom from simple sources (books, lectures, talks) until the aspirant is ready to go to more direct forms of knowing (Gnosis). In a sense the right side teachings of the Toltec are teachings from the baboon form of Tehuti.

As inventor of hieroglyphs he was called “Lord of the Holy Words.” Without his inventions, especially writing, it is said that mankind would have forgotten his doctrines, wisdom and knowledge- thus losing all of the benefits of his discoveries. “I am Thoth, the skilled scribe whose hands are pure, a professor of purity, who drives away evil, who writes what is true, who detests falsehood, whose pen defends the Lord of All…” It was claimed by Mantheo, Herodotus and in Kore Kosmou of Stobaius that it was the first Hermes (Tehuti) who kept alive the wisdom from before the flood inscribed in monuments all over the world. These writings and knowledge were said to be hidden so future generations could come to find them. Herodotus referred to the two pillars that Thoth had put the ancient wisdom on, “hidden under the heavenly vault which could only be found by the worthy, who would use such knowledge for the benefit of mankind.”

Thoth spoke the words which resulted in the creation of the heavens and the earth and he taught Isis the words which enabled her to revive the dead body of Osiris and healed Horus. Tehuti was the master of the divine sound, used not only for creation but also in healing. All of the great healers in Egypt needed the divine wisdom of Tehuti and the medical knowledge of energy from Sekhemet. The Elbers Papyrus says, “Man’s guide is Thoth, who bestows on him the gifts of his speech, who makes the books and illumines those who are learned therein, and the physicians who follow him, that they may work cures.” This sound was known to the Greeks as the divine word or Logos.xxii He was the moon god, or at least in charge of guarding the moon in his form as the sacred Ibis. He was the left eye, representing the left side of the body and its feminine energies (see eye). He won the part of the moon’s light to provide Nut with the extra five days to allow for the birth of the Neteru. He was the master architect of temple building and of all the mystic monuments. He is also the great judge for he mediates the conflict between Horus and Set. Interestingly no one is really sure where Tehuti fits into the chronology of Neteru. Some claim he must have been created when Ra was created, as the feminine energy of the moon had to be created at the same time as the male energy of the sun. Some writings say he is the oldest son of Ra, others the child of Geb and Nut and brother of Isis. An important component was the “breath of Tehuti” described in chapter 183 of the Book of the Dead. A master of Qi Gong, Yoga or Shamanism must learn how to use the breath to gain inner power to store the Qi.

The ink jar he holds as god of writing is also the hieroglyph for the heart. The thought of Tehuti is not the thought of the conscious mind, but rather is the thought of our true mind in the heart. The use of reaching our true mind is to acquire Gnosis, or connection to all of the wisdom of the universe. Thus the wisdom of Tehuti is none other than the wisdom of our own heart, which is in fact our True Self. He could be seen as the Heart of the World. He is the “personification of the mind of God…the all-pervading and directing power of heaven and earth.” He is the will and power which kept the forces of heaven and earth in equilibrium, as it was through his wisdom that one could connect with his consort Maat. Thoth’s temple was referred to as the Temple of the Net, which may be similar in scope to the veil of Isis. Shamans in South America talk of students wanting to become fishes, to use their net to catch the unknown and unseen spirit. The idea of a net can also trap and enclose matter. To escape it one must learn the parts of the net (ropes, poles etc) in order to turn it into one’s own use as a means of catching the food of the spirit, similar to Jesus wanting to make fishers of men. The similarity of the word Thoth to our word thought is striking. Most importantly, Tehuti shows that creation itself is thought and sustained by thought.xxiii Tehuti is the wisdom that is needed in order to live the teachings of his consort, Maat, each day.

The Greek mysteries conjoined the ideas of Tehuti into their own god Hermes. He was given the name Trismegistus, or Thrice Great. This title of thrice great was applied to Tehuti long before it was applied to Hermes. A text from the archive of Hor in 172 BC says “no man shall be able to lapse from a matter which concerns Tehuti, three times great, the god in person who holds sway in the temple in Memphis.” Sophocles wrote, “Thrice happy [like Thoth] are those who have seen the mysteries.” The Greek statues of Hermes bears either the feather of truth (Maat) on the head, or the papyrus scroll in the hand.xxiv Hermes was later given winged sandals, representing that the wisdom of Hermes will lead one to the astral self which can fly away from the physical body. The teachings of Hermes became known as the Hermetic path, and is the basis of alchemy and the great religions of the world since Egypt. A famous symbol of Hermes was the staff of healing (caduceus), which became the symbol for the medical profession. The two serpents that wind their way up the staff are the kundalini serpents that the wisdom of Tehuti/Hermes will help to release. Tehuti holds this same caduceus in the Middle Kingdom Temple of Seti l at Abydos.

Tehuti influenced wisdom and healing all over the world. In Phoenicia, Taut was the inventor of the alphabet and writing. He was called Theutates by the Druids, and is the Raven of Native Indian tradition. The Hindu text Mahaniranatantra states that Hermes was similar to the Buddha since each was known as the “Son of the Moon.” To the Romans he was Mercury, the Norse as Woden (thus our Wednesday is the day of Hermes or Woden’s day. To the French it is Mecredi or Mercury’s day). Watkins compared the straight track leading through the Greek cities with the leys of Britain and said they were associated with Hermes. Hermits were a name given to servants of Hermes who acted as guides for pilgrims to help them across mountains and wild places. Some kept labyrinths, while others would stay deep in the forest alone to be in meditation. The dictionary says Hermes was an old name for the Will-O-the-Wisp (lights in the forest) or Shakespeare’s Puck. Hermes is always seen to be associated with ley lines, standing stones and ancient monuments.


The philosophy of Maat is perhaps the oldest known philosophy of righteous action. When followed and understood to perfection it ends in the spiritual evolution of the individual human being as well as the society who practice it. She is most often depicted as a beautiful winged figure, looking like a Christian angel which in fact could have their roots in Maat. Isis can have the wings of Maat to show that Isis is Maat using order and harmony to lead to wisdom and spiritual awakening. The actual practice of Maat is the study of a mystical teaching and the daily living of that teaching. Knowing it is not enough. She wears an ibis feather in her hair. This feather will symbolize Maat when weighed against the heart in the underworld journey. Maat in most books is defined as truth, justice, and order but the concept is much more than this. She does represent justice for all Egyptian judges were expected to make rulings based on the principles of Maat. Maat sometimes had her eyes closed to ensure equal justice. The modern blindfolded Lady of Justice is a version of this.

Maat is the foundation of the cosmos. She symbolized regularity, righteousness, honesty, accuracy, fairness, faithfulness and divine harmony. At one time all that existed was Chaos, but the creation of Maat led to harmony where creation could happen. It was the human responsibility of each person to live a life that kept this harmony in balance, as it was for Egyptian leaders to perform in ways that would keep the entire country in this harmony. To not live Maat meant that one would be allowing for the effects of karma (Meskhenet) to be reopened. The weighing of the heart is symbolizing this check of our actions and thoughts versus our karma. The more we lived Maat in our life, the more in balance the scale would be thus the less need for our return to an earthly existence. As a reminder Egyptians were taught to “do Maat and speak Maat.” Some compare the path of following Maat as similar to the path of following the Tao.

3 Memphis

The third Creation myth takes place in the city of Memphis (not the home of Elvis) but the former capital of Egypt and the center of Ptah. While in the other myths a super being creates other lesser beings to carry out creation, here the absolute spirit is personally engaged in creation right down to the emergence of all living things. Most of the information on this myth comes from the famed Shakaba Stone. The stone was originally a papyrus claimed to be “worn” and transferred to stone, though it was later used to grind corn losing many of the glyphs. The stone claims, “Through the heart and through the tongue evolution into Atum’s image occurred.” Atum is the raw material through which the image took shape. There needed to be idea (mind/heart), expression of that idea (annunciation, voice) and a third force (spirit) to create.


Memphis shows the formation of matter. Ptah is Atum on the earth, who incarnates the primordial eight (like at Hermopolis) and then becomes Tatenen “the earth which rises up.” Atum performs the work of creation by sitting on Ptah (as the primordial hill). Ptah gives existence, while human consciousness (Atum) allows perception and gives meaning to that existence. To an alchemist Atum may be seen as the One Mind while Ptah was the One Thing. Ptah symbolizes all life, stability and strength. His name is made up of Pt (heaven) and Ta (earth) with h (support). He is thus the support between heaven and earth. While Shu keeps Geb and Nut apart, it is the fire of Ptah that keeps that link alive. Ptah is usually represented by a mummified figure bound in wrappings with only his head, hands, and feet free. Some Egyptologists believe this means that Ptah is a very old deity made when artists did not know how to make arms and legs. This is typical of those who can believe the Ancient Egyptians could build pyramids from stone but couldn’t sculpt hands and feet from the same stone. He is bound showing that he is not free. He is bound (like every mummy) by Set, our own conscious mind (see Other Myths and Mummification). This compares to the Greek the Hephaestus, whose lameness is the physical equivalent to Ptah’s bindings. Ptah was usually painted blue.

Ptah was the master builder and it was his energy that instructed architects and masons during their building projects. Ptah was the metaphysical fire that produces its effects on the perceptible universe. He is able to transmit power and spirit to the rest of the Neteru, and control the lives of all things (animals/plants/humans) through his thought and command. Some claim Ptah carried out the commands of Thoth to create the universe, while others see the opposite. The myths and deities of Hermopolis and Memphis are related. Ptah is similar to the Supreme Being who is defined in the Hebrew Bible. Roy Norvill claims the name pth or ptr became Peter. He claims Peter and Ptah are related to words for rock and stone like the name Petra. His female consort was Sekhemet, a form of the goddess Hathor. She is also fire, but while Sekhemet uses the fire to burn away that which is impure Ptah uses the same fire as creative force to allow something new to be built (Sekhemet will be examined in Other Myths).

Ptah is the essence of the human soul that perceives the universe, and is the source and support of creation. Ptah spelled backwards is hotep (peace), the place of inner quiet of the mind that we must all venture. The myth of Memphis explains the illusion of this physical world. The wisdom of the actual creation of the universe is unknown to humans because it is beyond the use of our senses to pick it up. Our senses pick up information and send it to our brain where it makes a chemical signal to tell us what we perceive. We perceive something, but we cannot be too sure of exactly what we are perceiving. To say for certainty chair, dog or brother is to live in what is known as the world of Maya or illusion. This illusion is our own conscious mind interpreting information the way it wants, not the way it really is. If we can learn the process of seeing or becoming enlightened we go beyond seeing trees and people, just energy. A key hermetic axiom is “the universe is mental,” yet it cannot be understood through the mind in the head, only through our true mind in our heart. Memphite theology says creation occurred after a first thought, which caused matter to appear as various objects of creation. God has a thought and projected it out. Since our essence is God, we too are constantly manifesting the universe. We are led by our thoughts and deepest desires and keep creating things out there, yet if we regain our essence (God) and think only of the divine will (from our heart) then everything would happen naturally from God.

From the coupling of Ptah and Sekhemet came either the child Nefertem or Imhotep. Nefertem (Young Tem) would be the opposite of the setting sun or Old Tem. Young Tem is identified with young Horus. Nefertem is often shown as a lotus emerging form the primeval waters on which sits Horus. The other son, Imhotep (Asclepius), was a god of healing and medicine. Asclepius was an important component of the Hermetic literature again showing the connection of this myth with Hermopolis. Imhotep means “He Who Brings Peace,” and was originally seen to be the great priest who built the pyramid complex at Sakkara. It is claimed he could bring sleep to those who were suffering in pain, and could cure any disease of gods and men. The peace he brings is the inner peace that can occur after soul healing that brings us to our heart. Besides the god of medicine, he was also the god of learning in general thus assumed many of the attributes of Thoth in Memphis.

Another part of the myth is found in the village of Esna. Khnum is called the molder and creates all life forms out of Nile clay on his potter’s wheel. This is similar to the Biblical account of God fashioning Adam from clay. Khnum moulds to symbolize that we are molded each time we glimpse the mystical realms or must face our personal challenges. We will always come back a bit different, shaped into higher forms. His consort was Neith, and their offspring was Heka (magic).

4 Thebes
The main triad at Luxor is Amun, with consort Mut and offspring Khonsu. Luxor is claimed by de Lubicz to show the birth of the cosmic man, an enlightened human. The temple up the road at Karnak is called Aput-Set (Place of the Enumerator). The name combines the ideas of counting and birthing. To go from one number to the next requires a birth just like with humans. The title can also refer directly to Set, the physical world where counting and numbers can be shown. The Thebian myth clams at the origin there existed a serpent, Kam-at-f “he who has accomplished his time.” The serpent eventually ceased to exist “when his time was past,” and his son Ir-ta “Creator of the Earth” was the one who formed the eight primordials of Hermopolis among whom we find Amun. Ra is born and becomes assimilated with Amun.

Many believe that Amun was the great god of Ancient Egypt. This is false. While in the New Kingdom (after 2000BC) he did become the chief deity around Thebes and the south, prior to this period Amun was a serpent of the eight primordials in Heliopolis. He is mentioned only four times in the Pyramid Texts (the great religious document of Egypt). Not a solid background for the supposed great god of Egypt. In fact he was always seen as a rather minor deity until a specific shift in the astrological cycle. The main deity of Thebes during the Old Kingdom was Montu the bull. Suddenly the ram headed Amun came to prominence at Thebes, while great building projects are begun there. This is exactly at the time when the precession of the sky moved from Taurus the bull to Aries the ram. If Luxor had lasted long enough it would have been likely to see a fish take over during the age of Pisces. Memphis represented the element fire, Hermopolis water, Heliopolis air, Thebes the element of earth. In Toltec tradition, one learns to see the same event from all four directions (elements).

Amun also became connected to Min (a form of Horus) and later by the Greeks with Zeus. The Leyden Papyrus says Amun, “gives birth to everything that is, and causes all that exists to live,” while other texts of the time see him as the maker of all beings, mighty and powerful. Amun normally appears as a human with a crown headdress of two straight plumes, but sometimes with ram horns that curve close to the body. He is depicted with blue skin and was called “lord of the lapis lazuli.” The word Amun now ends the prayers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Since there are no written vowels in Egyptian, his name can be written as Amun, Amen, or Amon. His name means ‘hidden,’ for he is everywhere but cannot be seen. In the Old Kingdom he was referred to as Om, the famous mantra now found in Asia. This mantra helps slow our mind and take us to the hidden nature of the self. Some claim he was the main inspiration for Jehovah in the Bible. Amun did become the great king of the gods, but this is a strange thing. No one is really quite sure why the hidden became the great god. Some have even thought that Amun came to represent a group of outside forces that took control of Egypt after the Old Kingdom.

There is no question that originally Amun had a very key aspect in Egyptian teachings, that part of us that is hidden, the true essence of our being. This hidden essence is the essence of the Creator. However as Amun’s position grew, particularly in Middle Egypt, there became great corruption in the priesthood that followed him. Many other centers tried to break away from the influence of Thebes. Akhenaten even tried to eliminate the old religion entirely. This was a period when many of the wise priests of Egypt began to leave and take the wisdom to other parts of the world. Thus the Old Kingdom wisdom teachings of the hidden began to be corrupted by the New Kingdom and used in a different way. While earlier this teaching was to be used to find our hidden essence within it became a way of corrupt priests to gain control of the country.

Interpretation of Creation
All myths carry many levels of meaning. Beyond the outward literal meaning are other less obvious symbolic meanings. While they each can stand on their own separately, they are meant to be used in connection with each other. The Leyden Papyrus gives an example of how the four myths are connected by claiming, “All the Gods are three: Amun, Ra and Ptah, who have no equals. He who is mysterious is Amun, Ra is the head and Ptah the body. Their cities on earth are Thebes, Heliopolis and Memphis…when a message comes from heaven it is heard at Heliopolis, repeated at Memphis to Ptah who makes it into a letter and written in the Book Of Thoth, and then sent to Thebes.”xxxii Thus all four myths interacted with each other during the creation, and continued to do so.

Atum of Heliopolis created out of the void, while Ptah was the divine fire of Atum coming to the earth. Thoth was the ability of the creator to know itself by the word or divine logos, while Amun is the breath of life. John Anthony West claims this idea is similar to modern Christianity, which originally had separate centers of instruction for the creation, one according to the Father, one the Son and one the Holy Spirit, and the 4th according to the Virgin. Thus the same teaching is being explained and explored in “different yet complimentary ways.”xxxiii If the myths are placed in order first comes Nun, the primordial ocean that appears in all myths. Second would be Atum and his manifestation part of Ptah. From them comes the elements of creation that work on all planes: Tehuti (wisdom, Gnosis) Maat (divine order) and Hathor (another female principle examined in Other Myths). Once wisdom and order had been created, the eight primordials and Ra could now be manifested. Finally the Neteru (energies that would fuel creation) could be born at Heliopolis, followed by the actual creation of the material world at Memphis. Lastly, the effect of creation could be expressed at Thebes.

The myths also point to some very real scientific information in our physical world. The first is that the world began from nothing (Nun) represented by water. This perhaps is showing that water is the source of all things. The myths also explain the doubling process of hydrogen to helium that creates stars and planets, the workings of the solar systems, and the birth and gestation process of a human being (see number). Modern scientists use the Big Bang Theory to explain the formation of the universe. They feel that there was a time in the past when all the matter of the universe was packed tightly together, to an infinite density. This is similar to the primeval nature of Nun. Eventually the nucleus became polarized with electrons and protons. Modern scientists feel that when the act of creation occurred some 15 billion years ago, all matter exploded and expanded outward, which continues to this day. The ancient mystics understood this concept as the Breath of God. God right now is still breathing out, thus our universe is expanding. At some point, God will begin breathing in, and out universe will begin to contract.”

The Annu Ennead myth corresponds to our scientific Nebular Theory. The Nebular Theory claims that our entire solar system was once a molten gas nebula that rotated at great speed, bulged at the equator breaking off of gaseous rings which later formed into a few planets. These planets in turn threw off gaseous rings which formed into other planets, with the Sun left as the remnant of the original nebula.xxxv A closer look at the creation myth of Heliopolis will find Atum-Ra representing the sun and primordial fire. Atum-Ra then masturbated into existence Nut and Geb, thus they were formed from Ra (sun). The other Neteru were formed by Nut and Geb, the same as the nebular theory which claims the other planets came from the first few planets. The sun is continually praised as the great creator.

There is not enough space in this work to go into great depth of the mystical meaning of the creation myths, small bits were included in the description of each Neteru. I was given a very interesting personal account of the creation of the universe while performing a meditation with a weekly spiritual group. We were all in deep meditation when I asked to have knowledge of the creation. Soon my mind stopped working and all became blank and dark, equated with the nothingness of Nun. When the meditative tape stopped playing a friend stood up, similar to the serpent and Atum stirring in the primeval waters. He accidentally kicked my leg in the dark. I felt a massive jolt of electricity run through my body. I had been given a personal experience of the power of creation, the nothingness, the stirring and the jolt of fire that allowed something to form from the nothing.

The ancient wisdom is also informing us that the creation did not just occur once, but is continually acted out each moment of every day. With each heartbeat or breath we take, a new creation of life occurs. Every seven years every cell in our body has been remade, thus we are recreated as a new being. We can learn how to use the creative forces of the universe in our own lives. The creation myths try to teach that we too are Neteru who are creating with our mind. We are creating a dream world that once understood can be transformed. Since we understand that we are the ones creating most every part of the dream of life we are experiencing, we realize that if we can change or take control of our thoughts, the dream must change. This is the beginning of awakening, to finding the heart, and living a life based on the teachings of Egypt.