Tefnut

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{god, call, give}
{island, water, area}
{son, year, death}
{disease, patient, cell}

In Ancient Egyptian religion, Tefnut, transliterated tfnt (tefenet) is a goddess of moisture, moist air, dew and rain.[1] She is the sister and consort of the air god Shu and the mother of Geb and Nut.

Contents

Etymology

Literally translating as "That Water"[2], the name Tefnut has been linked to the verb 'tfn' meaning 'to spit'[3] and versions of the creation myth say that Atum spat her out and her name was written as a mouth spitting in late texts.[4]

Unlike most Egyptian deities, including her brother, Tefnut has no single ideograph or symbol. Her name in hieroglyphics consists of four single phonogram symbols t-f-n-t. Although the n phonogram is a representation of waves on the surface of water, it was never used as an ideogram or determinative for the word water (mw), or for anything associated with water.[5]

Mythological origins

Tefnut is a daughter of the solar god Atum-Ra. Married to her brother, Shu, she is mother of Nut, the sky and Geb, the earth. Tefnut's grandchildren were Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys. Alongside her father, brother, children and grandchildren, she is a member of the Ennead of Heliopolis.

There are a number of variants to the myth of the creation of Tefnut and her twin brother Shu. In all versions, Tefnut is the product of parthenogenesis, and all involve some variety of bodily fluid.

In the Heliopolitan creation myth, the solar god Atum masturbates to produce Tefnut and Shu.[6]

In some versions of this myth, Atum also swallows his semen, and spits it out to form the twins, or else the spitting of his saliva forms the act of procreation. Both of these versions contain a play on words, the tef sound which forms the first syllable of the name Tefnut also constitutes a word meaning 'to spit' or 'to expectorate'.[7]

The Coffin Texts contain references to Shu being sneezed out by Atum from his nose, and Tefnut being spat out like saliva. The Bremner-Rind Papyrus and the Memphite Theology describe Atum masturbating into his mouth, before spitting out his semen to form the twins.[8]

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