The Ogdoad of Hermopolis - The Creation Myth
The main centers of religion in ancient Egypt were Heliopolis and Memphis. However, the cities of Hermopolis and Thebes were also important religious centers and all of these cities had their own versions of the creation myth in order to stress the pre-eminence of their favored gods. Hermopolis claimed to predate the cosmogony of Heliopolis. The creation myth relating to the Ogdoad of Hermopolis is detailed in these short facts.
- The world started from a watery mass of dark, directionless chaos
- The inbuilt qualities of the primeval waters of chaos were represented by a set of eight gods, called the Ogdoad
- For every 'male' deity there is the 'female' counterpart. The names of the female deities were the feminine forms of the male name and vice versa
- Snakes and frogs were believed to inhabit the primeval waters of chaos
- The gods were therefore depicted as aquatics deities - the male gods taking the form of frogs and the females took on the form of snakes
- The name of the primeval water of chaos was Nun
- The female counterpart of Nun was Naunet. This pair of gods, Nun and Naunet, represented the inert primeval water itself
- Heh and his counterpart Hehet represented the infinite extent or boundlessness of the water
- Kek and Keket personified the darkness of the water
- Amun and Amaunet personified the hidden and unknowable nature of the water representing the primordial concept or element of air or invisibility
- The gods and goddesses all eventually converged in chaos, resulting in a great upheaval. This produced the pyramidal mound from which the sun rose into the sky bringing light and life to the world
- Hermopolis was believed to have been the site of the emergence of the primeval mound
- The Ogdoad were 'the fathers and the mothers who gave birth to the water and who created the world
- The gods of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis therefore represented the following concepts:
Nun & Naunet = Primeval Waters
Heh & Hehet = Boundlessness
Kek & Keket = Darkness
Amun & Amaunet = Invisiblity / Air
The Ogdoad of Hermopolis - Amun the frog god of Air
Amun, as a member of the Ogdoad first appeared depicted as a frog or a frog-headed man. He was known as the self-engendered creator god who rose from the primordial waters of chaos personified as Nun. Amun became prominent as a god in his right during the period of the Middle Kingdom onward. He joined with the sun god as Amun-Ra and eventually as Ra. Various myths surrounded Amun who adopted the persona of a creator god god of the air, sun and the sky. The mythology relating to Amun was that he was self-created, he rose on the first piece of land out of the lotus blossom on the primeval mound and stories relating to the Benben stone, the Bennu Bird and the cosmic egg.
The Ogdoad of Hermopolis - Amaunet the snake goddess of Air
Amaunet embodied the concept of air, essence, and hidden power. She appears entirely as a cobra snake or as a snake-headed woman. She was regarded as the mother of creation, mother and grandmother of the gods, and owner of the Tree of Life. Amaunet became associated with the moon and was sometimes represented as a funerary goddess in tombs and coffins. Amaunet was later absorbed by Mut, the mother goddess.
The Ogdoad of Hermopolis - Heh the frog god of Infinity
Heh, also known as Huh, embodied the concept of formlessness, boundlessness and infinity. He appeared as a frog or as a frog-headed man and his consort in the Ogdoad was Hehet. Huh was later identified with Shu and was a god of the wind, linked to the four pillars that held up the sky. According to some myths he was believed to hold up the Solar barque of Ra and raise it up into the sky at the end of its voyage through the Underworld.
The Ogdoad of Hermopolis - Hehet the snake goddess of Infinity
Hehet, also known as Hauhet embodied the concept of formlessness, boundlessness, infinity the flood force and the primeval waters of Nun. She was depicted as a cobra snake or as a snake-headed woman. Her consort and male counterpart was Heh.
The Ogdoad of Hermopolis - Kek the frog god of Darkness
Kek, also known as Kuk, embodied the concept of the primeval aspects of darkness and of life. He appeared as a frog or as a frog-headed man and his consort in the Ogdoad was the snake-headed goddess, Keket.
The Ogdoad of Hermopolis - Keket the snake goddess of Darkness
Keket, also known as Kauket, embodied the concept of darkness and obscurity. She was depicted as a cobra snake or as a snake-headed woman. Her consort and male counterpart was Kek. She was the goddess of the night, just after sunset.
The Ogdoad of Hermopolis - Naunet the snake goddess of the Primeval Waters
Naunet the goddess of the primal waters of chaos from which all arose embodied the concept of the primeval waters. She was depicted as a cobra snake or as a snake-headed woman. Her consort and male counterpart was Nun. Naunet also personified the primordial abyss of the underworld.
The Ogdoad of Hermopolis - Nun, god of the Primeval Waters
The primeval mound of creation arose from the Nun. Nun played no part in Egyptian religious rituals and had no temples dedicated to him. He was symbolized by the sacred lakes associated with some temples, such as Karnak and Dendara. The depths of the primordial abyss of the underworld were also associated with the Nun. It was believed that the waters of Nun would eventually inundate the whole world, and once again the universe would become the primordial chaotic waters of Nun.