Nut (goddess)

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In the Ennead of Egyptian mythology, Nut (alternatively spelled Nuit, Newet, and Neuth) was the goddess of the sky.[2] Her name is translated to mean 'sky' [3] and she is considered one of the oldest deities among the Egyptian pantheon,[4] with her origins being found on the creation story of Heliopolis. She was originally the goddess of the nighttime sky, but eventually became referred to as simply the sky goddess. Her headdress was the hieroglyphic of part of her name, a pot, which may also symbolize the uterus. Mostly depicted in human form, Nut was also sometimes depicted in the form of a cow whose great body formed the sky and heavens, a sycamore tree, or as a giant sow, suckling many piglets (representing the stars).

Origins

A sacred symbol of Nut was the ladder, used by Osiris to enter her heavenly skies. This ladder-symbol was called maqet and was placed in tombs to protect the deceased, and to invoke the aid of the deity of the dead. Nut is considered an enigma in the world of mythology because she is direct contrast to most other mythologies, which usually evolve into a sky father associated with an earth mother or Mother Nature.[5]

She appears in the creation myth of Heliopolis which involves several goddesses who play important roles: Tefnut (Tefenet) is a personification of moisture, who mated with Shu (Air) and then gave birth to Sky as the goddess Nut, who mated with her brother Earth, as Geb. From the union of Geb and Nut came, among others, the most popular of Egyptian goddesses, Isis, the mother of Horus, whose story is central to that of her brother-husband, the resurrection god Osiris. Osiris is killed by his brother Set and scattered over the Earth in 14 pieces which Isis gathers up and puts back together. Osiris then climbs a ladder into his mother Nut for safety and eventually becomes king of the dead. A huge cult developed about Osiris that lasted well into Roman times. Isis was her husband's queen in the underworld and the theological basis for the role of the queen on earth. It can be said that she was a version of the great goddess Hathor. Like Hathor she not only had death and rebirth associations, but was the protector of children and the goddess of childbirth..[6]


Some of the titles of Nut were:
- Coverer of the Sky: Nut was said to be covered in stars touching the different points of her body.
- She Who Protects: Among her jobs was to envelop and protect Ra, the sun god.[7]
- Mistress of All or "She who Bore the Gods": Originally, Nut was said to be laying on top of Geb (Earth) and continually having intercourse. During this time she birthed four children: Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys[8] A fifth child named Arueris is mentioned by Plutarch.[9] He was the Egyptian counterpart to the Greek god Apollo, who was made syncretic with Horus in the Hellenistic era as 'Horus the Elder'.[10] The Ptolemaic temple of Edfu is dedicated to Horus the Elder and there he is called the son of Nut and Geb, brother of Osiris, and eldest son of Geb.[11]
- She Who Holds a Thousand Souls: Because of her role in the re-birthing of Ra every morning and in her son Osiris's resurrection, Nut became a key god in many of the myths about the after-life.[7]

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