Although there are several Egyptian creation myths, there are common elements found in each of these accounts, such as the Earth being covered by the lifeless waters of chaos, called Nu. From these waters arose a mound (often described as a pyramid). From the mound emerged the sun, in various forms. Different creation accounts were associated with patron gods in one of the major cities of Egypt. These are the accounts from the major cities: -
- Hermopolis – the primeval waters are represented by eight gods called the Ogdoad. God Nu and goddess Nanuet represent the inert waters itself, the god Huh and goddess Hauhet represent the water's infinite extent, Kek and Kauket were the darkness within, whilst Amun and Amaunet represented the waters hidden and unknowable nature, in contrast to the world of the living. The primeval waters were part of the creation process, so the Ogdoad were the creator gods, the males were represented as frogs, and the females represented as snakes. The convergence of male and female produced the pyramidal mound, known as the benben, which rose from the waters. From this emerged the sun, which rose into the sky and brought light and life into the world.
- Heliopolis - Atum existed in the waters of Nu as an inert potential being. When the mound rose from the waters, Atum appeared and through masturbation (with his hand representing the female principle within him), he produced Shu and Tefnut who appeared after he “sneezed” and “spat”. Shu and Tefnut then produced the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut. Geb and Nut had four children, who represented the forces of life: -
- Osiris, god of fertility and regeneration
- Isis, the mother goddess
- Set, the god of chaos, and
- Nephthys, the female counterpart of Set.
This represented the process by which life was made possible. These nine gods were grouped together as the Ennead. However, the eight lesser gods and all creation were viewed as from of Atum.
- Memphis - Ptah, the patron god of craftsmen used his Word and Mind to shape and craft the world. Ideas developed within Ptah's heart (regarded as the seat of human thought) were given form when he named them with his tongue. By speaking these names, Ptah produced the gods and all other things. Ptah’s creative thought caused the formation of Atum and the Ennead.
Thebes -Amun was not just a member of the Ogdoad, but the hidden force behind all things. Amun's act of creation is likened to the call of a goose, which caused the Ogdoad and Ennead to form. Amun was both separate from the world and, because he was the ultimate source of creation, all the gods, including the other creators, were in fact merely aspects of him. Over time Amun became the supreme god of the Egyptian pantheon. Thebes is regarded as the place the primeval mound emerged at the beginning of time.