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Deities & Heros >> Egyptian
theban triad, snake god, god of sunlight, earth god


Author: Mirjam

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Shu is one of the Heliopolitan Ennead. He is the god of sunlight and air, first recorded in the Old Kingdom, where he was responsible for bringing Ra and the king to life every day. Over a millenium later, Akenaten was to continue this tradition, by commemorating Shu as dwelling in the sun’s disk.

Shu is one of the first two deities created by Atum, the sun-god of Heliopolis. The semen (or in an alternative tradition, the mucus sneezed by Atum from his nostrils) of Atum gave birth to Shu.

His wife, and also his twin sister, is Tefnut, the goddess of moisture.

Shu holds aloft the sky, and keeps separate his two children Geb the earth god, and Nut, the goddess of the sky.

In sacred art, Shu is shown in human form with an ostrich feather on his head, the hieroglyph of his name.

In the Underworld, Shu is dangerous, leading a band of torturers and executioners, whose slaughtering-block represents a great peril for the deceased. On the other hand, he is also a protection against the snake-god Apophis, and Shu’s spells can ward off the poisons of Apophis.

Shu belongs to the cosmic deities and as such no temples were dedicated to him. There seems to have been no priesthood serving solely Shu either.

A Chapelwas built to Shu, Atum, Tefnut, Re-Harakhte and the Theban triad at Tjeku/Pithom, 8th N, Lower Egypt, by Osorkon II (22nd Dyn.)

Festivals: (not historically verified)

30th August – 13th Paopi - Day of Satisfying the Hearts of the Ennead

14th May – 30th Payni - Tehuti (Thoth) appears with Shu to bring back Tefnut

2nd April – 18th Pachons - Day of Joy of the Ennead and crew of Ra

15th November – 30th Koiak - Ennead Feast in the House of Ra

2nd October – 16th Hethara - Day of the appearance of the eight Great Netjers (Primordials)

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