The Creation of The Gods and Humans

How the Gods Came To Be

In the beginning, there was only chaos, which stretched, dark and silent, throughout all space and eternity. Later, people in some parts of Egypt came to see this bottomless abyss containing a limitless ocean of black, lifeless water as a living being.

They called the nothingness Nu and worshipped him as a god. Whatever one chooses to call this dismal and foreboding state of nonexistence, a time came, long ago, when a dramatic and wonderful event transformed nonexistence into existence.

This was the creation of Amun, the First One, the King of the Gods, the maker of all things. No other god was needed to make him. Indeed, because he had no father or mother, Amun somehow created himself, in an invisible, secret way that no human being has ever known or will ever discover.

As Amun mysteriously sprang into being, the deathly stillness of the cosmos was shattered by his magnificent piercing voice. This mighty blast set in motion all the rest of creation. In some parts of Egypt people believed that in this early stage of his existence Amun took the form of a gigantic goose, the Great Honker. He certainly went on to assume many other forms, as his will and needs dictated.

The first of the forms Amun took was that of one part of the Ogdoad, the group of eight gods that later became sacred to the priests at Hermopolis. These priests claimed that the eight earliest gods (Nu, Naunet, Hey, Hauhet, Kek, Kauket, Amun, and Amaunet), who had the heads of frogs and serpents, swam through the dark waters of chaos. By contrast, the priests at Thebes said that first the mighty Amun created the other seven and then joined them as the eighth member of the Ogdoad.

Next, said the Theban priests, Amun took the form of the first dry land. On this so-called primeval mound he proceeded to create the Ennead, the group of nine gods that later became sacred to the priests at Heliopolis and Memphis.

These included Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys. At this time, Amun also created the ram-headed god Khnum and all the other gods, spirits, and demons that inhabit the sky, earth, and Underworld. In addition, in the center of the primeval mound Amun fashioned the first city - sacred Thebes - where at first many of the gods made their home.

The Rise of Humans, Cities, Animals, and Plants

After these strenuous acts of creation, Amun rose into the sky and assumed the shape and features of the life-giving sun (in which form he is often called Amun-Ra). As he looked down from above, a new phase of creation began, namely that of the earth and the humans that inhabit it.

To complete this task, Amun chose the ram-headed god Khnum, whom the Egyptians came to call, along with Amun, one of the two Lords of Destiny. The destiny Khnum controlled was that of the human race. He proceeded, with Amun’s blessing, to model the first humans on his divine potter’s wheel.

Khnum began by fashioning the bones from a special clay. Over this inner frame he molded skin, veins carrying blood, and various organs, including those for digestion, breathing, and having children.

He gave the bodies of the first humans all the elements and details familiar in human bodies today. But though the physical forms were complete, they did not yet possess the sparks of life, including movement and thought. So Khnum breathed into his creations, passing them some of his own life force and thereby animating them.

Immediately it became clear that these new creatures Khnum had created would need someplace to live. With the aid of Amun on high, Khmun rolled back the dark waters surrounding the primeval mound, thus exposing more dry land. And on this new land he helped the first people to establish new cities, most of them modeled on the plan of sacred Thebes.

Khnum also populated the new land, which became known as Egypt, with all manner of living beasts, from birds, to fish, to crocodiles, to beetles and he made trees, crops, and other plants grow in abundance on the face of the earth. In time, as the humans had their own children and multiplied, other more distant lands became populated. But Egypt remained the center of the world shaped by Amun and the gods he himself had created.

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