Nuit, Egyptian Sky Goddess by Stormloverwolf
In ancient Egyptian mythology Nuit or Nut was the Sky Goddess. She is the daughter of Shu and Tefnut and was one of the Ennead – the 9 great Osirian Gods. It is said that the sun God Ra would enter Nuit’s mouth every evening after the setting of the sun, only to be reborn from her vulva the next morning. She also swallowed and rebirthed the stars. She was considered a Death Goddess and her image was found on most sarcophagi.
Some of the titles of Nuit were - “Coverer of the Sky”; “She Who Protects”; “Mistress of All” and “She Who Holds a Thousand Souls”. Nuit became a key God in many of the myths about the afterlife. “The Book of Nuit” is a modern title of what was known in ancient times as “The Fundamentals of the Course of the Stars”. This became a very important collection of ancient Egyptian astronomical texts, perhaps the earliest of several other such texts, going back at least to 2,000 BC.
In art, Nuit is described in a few different ways. In some she is seen as a dark nude woman covered in stars holding herself up in an arch facing downwards, in the image of the Great Kau (Cow) whose udders gave forth the Milky Way; and other art show her has having huge wings that spread over the earth being supported by Shu; then opposite of Nuit (the sky), is her husband, Geb (the earth). With Geb she was thought to be the mother of the five extra days of the Egyptian calendar. Osiris was born on the first day; Horus the Elder on the second, Set on the third, Isis on the fourth, and Nephthys being the last, born on the fifth day. The days on which these deities were born were known as the 'Five Epagomenal days of the year' and they were celebrated all over Egypt.
The story goes that during the day Nuit and Geb are separated, but each evening Nuit comes down to meet Geb, which then brings the darkness. If there was any stormy weather, it was believed that Nuit came closer to the Earth. She is the barrier of all forces of chaos from the 'ordered' cosmos in the world. It was believed that her arms and legs would touch each of the four directions North, South, East and West being the pillars of the sky. Nuit gives birth to the sun each morning in the East, and she then swallows the sun in the West in the evening.
Being a Goddess that birthed the sun each day she was also associated with the Underworld, resurrection and the tomb. Nuit was considered a friend to the dead, and a motherly type protector of those who journeyed through the land of the dead. Many times she was painted on the inside lid of the sarcophagus, protecting the dead until he or she could be reborn like RA in their new life.
The following is from the Book of the Dead -
“Homage to thee, O thou who hast come as Khepera, Khepera the creator of the Gods, Thou art seated on thy throne, thou risest up in the sky, illumining thy mother Nuit stretchedth out her hands, and performeth an act of homage to thee...
The Company of the Gods rejoice at thy rising, the earth is glad when it beholdeth thy rays; the people who have been long dead come forth with cries of joy to behold thy beauties every day. Thou goest forth each day over heaven and earth, and thou are made strong each day by thy mother Nuit...
Homage to thee, O thou who art Ra when thou risest, and who art Tem when thou settest in beauty. Thou risest and thou shinest on the back of thy mother Nuit, O thou who are crowned the king of the Gods! Nuit welcometh thee, and payeth homage unto theee, and Maat, the everlasting and never-changing Goddess, embraceth thee at noon and at eve.
The Gods rejoice greatly when they see my beautiful appearance from the body of Goddess Nuit, and when the Goddess Nuit bringeth me forth”.
The following explains how Nuit was also called upon to assist the dead in one of the Spells in the Book of the Dead...
“The Chapter of snuffing the air, and of having power over the water in Khert-Neter. The Osiris Ani saith: Hail, thou Sycamore tree of the Goddess Nuit! Give me of the (water and of the) air which is in thee. I embrace that throne which is in Unu, and I keep guard over the Egg of Nekek-ur. It flourisheth, and I flourish; it liveth, and I live; it snuffeth the air, and I snuff the air, I the Osiris Ani, who word is truth in peace.”
There were several festivals to Nuit throughout the year some of which are the 'Festival of Nuit and Ra' and the 'Feast of Nuit'. Though she was known as a protector of the dead Nuit was the personification of the sky, a cosmic deity, however no temples or specific cult centres were linked to her.
I hope this interests you in the Egyptian pantheon and encourages you to do further research. There is so much out there for us to learn from.