In last week's blog, I wrote about Ptah /ta/, the god of creation, art, and cosmic order, and his relationship with Atum /ɑ.tum/, the ancient god responsible for creating the world and all that inhabited it. Today, I will share more information about Atum and his connection to us.
In ancient Egyptian cosmology, there existed a god named Atum, whose name meant "the complete one" or "the finisher of the world." Atum was the embodiment of both the beginning and the end, a deity responsible for creating the world and all that inhabited it. Most importantly, this is the story of Atum, the god who shaped the very fabric of our existence.
In the heart of the watery abyss called Nun (think Milky Way), the cosmic ocean before the world's creation, Atum (think Adam and Eve) emerged as a self-created deity.
Up and Atum
He was born from the dark and chaotic void, and his emergence marked the beginning of creation. The ancient Egyptians believed that Atum was the first and original god, the source of all life and existence.
Atum often appeared as a man, but his proper form defied human comprehension. He embodied both male and female aspects, making him the quintessential androgynous deity, and he possessed the power of self-creation. People believed that Atum, as the sun god, cast his rays of light to dispel the darkness of the cosmic abyss, thus initiating the cycle of life and death.
Nun of Us
Atum, existing alone in the vast expanse of Nun, felt a profound loneliness. From this solitude, a powerful creative force arose. Atum's tears, symbolizing both sorrow and joy, flowed down his cheeks and mingled with the waters of Nun. These tears, representing the ancient waters of creation, carried the potential to give birth to the world.
In an act of divine magic, Atum began to shape the world from the primeval waters. He uttered a powerful sound, a creative word, and with this "hu," the creation process commenced. As a result, the seas emerged a mound of earth, symbolizing the newly created land, and Atum stood upon it as the first sunrise, casting his golden rays over the world.
The creation process did not stop with the emergence of Atum; rather, it set the stage for further divine births. Moreover, Atum, through his will, gave birth to two offspring: Shu /sh uu/, the god of air, and Tefnut /tef newt/, the goddess of moisture. Shu and Tefnut maintained the balance between the elements, and they ventured into the world to carry out their duties.
9 Gods, 9 planets
Consequently, Shu and Tefnut eventually became the parents of Geb, the god of the earth, and Nut /newt/, the goddess of the sky. To clarify, this divine lineage marked the beginning of the Ennead, a group of nine deities that played a crucial role in Egyptian cosmology. Further, Geb and Nut, in turn, became the parents of Osiris, Isis, Seth, Nephthys, and Horus, who would go on to shape the world and the destinies of humanity.
Atum's role as the creator extended beyond the initial act of world formation. Subsequently, he maintained a watchful eye over the cosmic order, ensuring that the delicate balance between the elements and the cycles of life and death continued uninterrupted. So, Atum's role in upholding this balance was crucial to the survival and prosperity of the world.
The ancient Egyptians believed that Atum's tears and sweat, representing the waters of the Nile, nourished the land and its people. As a result, the Nile, in its annual flood, was seen as a manifestation of Atum's benevolence, providing the fertile soil necessary for agriculture. The success of the yearly inundation was celebrated in festivals, rituals, and offerings to honor Atum's role as the life-giver.
In addition, Atum's legacy extended far beyond the theological realm. The concept of Atum's creative act, known as the "Atum-egg" or "benben," became a central symbol in Egyptian architecture, prominently displayed in temples and pyramids. Meanwhile, the benben stone, representing the primordial mound of creation, was placed at the apex of pyramids, signifying the divine origin and purpose of these monumental structures.
Atum also found his place in Egyptian mythology as the supreme god, embodying the duality of creation and destruction. Likewise, he was often associated with the setting sun, signifying the end of one day and the beginning of another, thus reinforcing the cyclical nature of time and existence.
In the heart of the Egyptian pantheon, Atum's importance persisted throughout the dynastic history. Even as other gods rose to prominence, the concept of the primordial creator remained integral to the Egyptian worldview. Therefore, it shaped their beliefs, art, and rituals, guiding their quest for spiritual understanding and harmony with the cosmos.
The end, is the beginning
As the sands of time continued to flow, Atum, the divine creator, lived on in the hearts and minds of the Egyptian people. His enduring legacy reminded them of the eternal cycle of life and death, the delicate balance of the elements, and the boundless potential of creation. So, in the profound myth of Atum, the ancient Egyptians found a reflection of the mysteries of existence and a connection to the very source of all life and the world's creation.
I share the information about Atum to give you a perspective on how other cultures and religions have similar stories. According to the Bible (Genesis 2:7), this is how humanity began: "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; man became a living soul." God called the man Adam and later created Eve from Adam's rib.
Yes, you are
To sum up, Atum and Adam shared similar names and were among the very first beings on this planet. Atum is both male and female, while Adam takes a rib from himself to create Eve. As a result, they are both able to create life independently.
The message is clear: we are all creators, and the power lives within you. Moreover, you do not need anything outside of you to make the life you desire. As a result, the ancient civilizations keep reminding us of this information through their stories.
What do you want to create?