Nut – The Galactic Goddess of Ancient Egypt

by Lesley Jackson

A 3,000 year-old vignette from the Djedkhonsuiefankh funerary papyrus on display in the Cairo Egyptian Museum (Wikimedia Commons). Click to see a larger image

The image of Nut is very familiar for those who love Ancient Egyptian art. Her starry body arches over the earth and depicts the heavens in many beautiful astronomical ceilings in tombs and temples. She gave birth to Horus the Elder, Osiris, Seth, Isis and Nephthys and each morning births the Sun God Ra but she has little interaction with her offspring. Nut has no dedicated temples and apparently no followers yet she is an essential component of funerary tradition and is one of the most helpful of the afterlife Goddesses where she frequently appears in the guise of a Tree Goddess. These seemingly disconnected facts prompts the question why? What lies behind all this?

Nut’s name derives from the Egyptian word for water, nw, and her symbol is the water pot. In a wet climate the link between sky and water is obvious but the water element of Nut is actually derived from the Egyptian’s understanding of the cosmos. The watery nun existed before creation and the universe is a bubble of order and life floating in these chaotic and dangerous waters. Nut holds back the waters of the nun, enclosing the created world in a protective embrace. She is like an invisible force-field through which the blue waters of the nun can be seen during the day. Space and water are her two key attributes and these explain the key aspects of her character. Continue reading "Nut – The Galactic Goddess of Ancient Egypt"