Atum

Other Names

Atem, Tem, “The All”, “Lord to the Limits of the Sky”

Associations

Deities: Ra
Animals: Snake, lion, bull, mongoose, lizard, dung beetle
Symbol: Man wearing dual crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, snake

Family & Other Connections

Atum is said to have created himself from the primordial waters of chaos, Nun. He was the head of the Ennead, or nine gods, and early myths say that he created the god Shu and goddess Tefnut from his saliva or, alternatively, his semen.

At some point Atum was merged with the sun god Ra, creating the combined deity Ra-Atum.

Stories & Other Information

Atum was the great primeval deity of Heliopolis, the first god who created himself, the other gods and everything in the world. Everything which existed was thought to be a part of Atum, and the word ‘Tem’ from which his name originates means ‘complete’. This idea of completion has two sides; Atum was thought to have created everything, but at the end of time he will be the one to bring things to completion – to finish everything as well.

Atum was linked to the sun, and the sun god Ra, through his association with creation, but when the two gods are mentioned together Ra is often associated with the rising sun and Atum with the setting sun. Therefore Atum is linked with the Underworld, through which the sun travelled every night and as such he plays an important part in funerary books. In the Underworld he was thought the supervise the punishment of evildoers and protect the deceased from danger.

Pictures

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