The Egyptian God Shu
The Egyptian God Shu and his sister-wife Tefnut were the first children of the creator god Ra. In the ancient Egyptian creation myth of Heliopolis, we saw that out of the dark waters of chaos Ra arose and then forged out of his own body his first two children.
In one creation myth, Atum (or Ra) masturbated into his hand, took the seed into his mouth and then spat it out in the form of Shu and Tefnut.
In another myth, Hathor or Iusaaset is the mother of Shu, which would then leave us wondering how Atum could have been the only god in the beginning if he had a mate!
Anyway, we’ve seen over and over again that in ancient Egyptian mythology, origins and lineage are blurred. There are different stories from different times and different parts of the country.
Keep in mind that ancient Egyptian religion lasted around 3000 years so there had to be a few changes here and there…
The Egyptian God Shu’s Form and Role
The Egyptian God Shu was the God of Air. Basically he was everything between the earth and sky (who are also his children).
He was what held up the sky (his daughter) up above the earth (his son) with his own hands. Without this heroic and eternal act of separation, creation would not have been possible.
He is also thought of as the god who brought light to the world after the darkness and chaos that was the primordial state.
Symbolically, his form was that of a man with a feather on his head. The feather represented the lightness of air. And part of being the god of air, he represented northern wind and cool breezes.
His sister, and wife, Tefnut, is the Goddess of Mist. She gave birth to their two children: Geb and Nut – who are the Earth and Sky.
In the Coffin Texts, there is a part that is spoken by Shu about himself and his creation:
I am Shu, whom Atum created the day that he himself appeared.
He did not form me in a womb nor shape me in an egg,
I was not conceived by any manner of conception,
But my father Atum spat me forth with the spittle of his mouth,
me and my sister Tefnut.
She emerged behind me when I was enveloped in the breath of life that came from the throat of the phoenix,
on the day that Atum appeared in the infinity, the nothing, the darkness and shapelessness.
I am Shu, Father of the Gods – which was when Atum sent out his single eye to seek me and my sister Tefnut.
I am he who made the darkness light for her when she found me as a man upholding.
The single eye he speaks of comes from another myth, which gives us a story about the reasoning behind having two eyes, as well as the origin of the sun and the moon:
While Atum (or Ra) was existing in the primordial dark waters of chaos, he gave himself an eye which he then sent out to look for Shu and Tefnut. While it was gone he gave himself another eye. The first eye then returned and got very angry that it had been replaced by the second eye.
To placate it, Atum then gave the first eye more power than the second. Now he had two eyes, one became the eye of the sun and the other became the eye of the moon. The solar eye was then turned into the rearing cobra that is used for protection.
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