These myths also form the earliest religious compilations david leeming the world of myth pdf the world. The ancient Egyptians had many creator gods and associated legends. Thus the world or more specifically Egypt was created in diverse ways according to different parts of the country. The different creation myths have some elements in common.
Egyptians may have equated this with the emergence of life from the primeval chaos. The imagery of the pyramidal mound derived from the highest mounds of earth emerging as the river receded. There were many versions of the sun’s emergence, and it was said to have emerged directly from the mound or from a lotus flower that grew from the mound, in the form of a heron, falcon, scarab beetle, or human child. To some degree these myths represent competing theologies, but they also represent different aspects of the process of creation. The creation myth promulgated in the city of Hermopolis focused on the nature of the universe before the creation of the world. The primeval waters were themselves part of the creation process, therefore, the deities representing them could be seen as creator gods.
According to the myth, the eight gods were originally divided into male and female groups. These two groups eventually converged, resulting in a great upheaval, which produced the pyramidal mound. From it emerged the sun, which rose into the sky to light the world. Ra, who was said to have existed in the waters of Nu as an inert potential being.
Atum was a self-engendered god, the source of all the elements and forces in the world, and the Heliopolitan myth described the process by which he “evolved” from a single being into this multiplicity of elements. He is also said to have “sneezed” and”spat” to produce Shu and Tefnut, a metaphor that arose from puns on their names. The myth thus represented the process by which life was made possible. As such, he represented the craftsman’s ability to envision a finished product, and shape raw materials to create that product. The Memphite theology said that Ptah created the world in a similar way. This, unlike the other Egyptian creations, was not a physical but an intellectual creation by the Word and the Mind of God.
By speaking these names, Ptah produced the gods and all other things. Ptah’s creative thought and speech were believed to have caused the formation of Atum and the Ennead. Amun transcends all other deities in his being “beyond the sky and deeper than the underworld”. Amun was separate from the world, his true nature was concealed even from the other gods. At the same time, however, because he was the ultimate source of creation, all the gods, including the other creators, were in fact merely aspects of Amun.