Kemetic Netjer "N"

Nefertem, Nefertum

Patron of: the rising of the sun.

Appearance: a man with a crown of lotus blossoms

Description: Nefertem was the god of the sunrise who helped to bring the sun into the sky where Ra was. According to myth, he had no father and no mother, instead being born from a lotus blossom.

Worship: Nefertem had no formal cult or temple. His primary devotion seems to have been in the form of small statues of him carried by people, similar to modern saints medals.

Nehebkau (Nehebu-Kau, Nehebkhau)

Nehebkau 'He Who Unites the Kas', was a benevolent snake god who the Egyptians believed was one of the original primeval gods. He was linked to the sun god, swimming around in the primeval waters before creation, then bound to the sun god when time began. He was a god of protection who protected the pharaoh and all Egyptians, both in life and in the afterlife.
Homage to thee, Netethib, daughter of these four gods who are in the Great House. Even when the command of Unas goes not forth, uncover yourselves in order that Unas may see you as Horus seeth Isis, as Nehebkau seeth Serqet, as Sobek seeth Nit, and as Set seeth Netethib.

-- Pyramid Text of Unas

He was depicted in the form of a snake with arms and legs, occasionally with wings. He is sometimes shown holding containers of food in his hands, in offering to the deceased. Less often, he is shown as a two headed snake, with a head at each end of the reptilian body.

His name comes from the ancient Egyptian word for 'yoke together' or 'unite', nhb , with the word for the plural of a part of the spirit, the ka . His name means that he is the one that brings together the ka - the double of a person, an animal, a plant, a body of water or even a stone - and unites the double with the physical body that the ka would reside in, be it an animate or inanimate object.

Homage to you, O ye gods, who are masters of [your] beards, and who are holy by reason of your scepters. Speak ye for me words of good import to Ra, and make ye me to have favor in the sight of Nehebkau.

-- The Chapter of Not Letting the Heart of Nun, Whose Word is Truth, be Driven Away from Him in Khert-Neter, The Book of the Dead

In life, Nehebkau was invoked by the people to protect them from and cure them of venomous bites. The Egyptians believed that he swallowed seven (a magical number) cobras, using them for his magical power. It was thought that he was one of the gods who announced the new pharaoh to the gods, at the beginning of his rule. He was at one point a rather fierce and aggressive deity, and the god Atem had to press his nail into Nehebkau's spine, so he could control the snake god. He could not be overcome with magic, fire or water.

After death, it was Nehebkau who protected and fed the pharaoh, offering food and water to the other justified dead. The drink was known as the 'Milk of Light', magical liquid that would heal the deceased had they been bitten by a poisonous animal. He was one of the forty two gods in the Halls of Ma'at, who helped to judge over the deceased.

O Nehebkau who comes from the city:
I have not sought to make myself unduly distinguished.

-- The Negative Confessions, The Book of the Dead

One tradition states that he is the son of the scorpion goddess Serqet, and another says that he is the son of the earth god Geb and Renenutet, the goddess who gave the rn - the true name - to each child at birth. He was a form of the sun god while he lived in the waters of Nun, before creation. He swam in the water in the form of a snake with the other primeval gods, living in chaos.

Among the greatest of the festivals ... were those in honor of Nehebkau which, according to Dr. Brugsch, were celebrate on of Tybi [the fifth month], that is to say, nine days after the 'Festival of Ploughing the Earth'.

-- The Gods of the Egyptians, E. A. Wallis Budge

Nehebkau did not have a priesthood, but many people invoked him in magical spells to gain his protection and cures against snakebites. He was a snake god of protection, who was called on when the people needed him. He was, they believed, one of the original gods of Egypt, only turned from chaos by the sun god. He was a benevolent god, a god of magic who bound the ka with the physical form, and who judged them in the afterlife. Although he did not have a cult following of his own, he was a god who they invoked in magical spells, both in life and in the land of the dead.


Patron of: sovereignty of the king.

Appearance: a woman with the head of a vulture.

Description: Originally the patron of Upper Egypt in the early Old Kingdom, she changed over time to be the protector of the king (especially in infancy) and the mother of his divine nature. Nekhbet's vulture is found on the pharaonic crown, along with the uraeus. In her form representing the king's power, she is shown wearing a white crown and carrying the symbols of life and power in her talons.

In the New Kingdom her role expanded to be the protector of all infants as well as being the goddess of childbirth.

Worship: Worshipped throughout Egypt, her cult center was the city of Nekheb.


Patron of: war, impartiality, mummification wrappings, the funeral bier.

Appearance: A woman carrying weapons of war, usually a bow and arrow and a shield.

Description: In the Old Kingdom she was a war deity, invoked as a blessing for weapons, both for the soldier and the hunter. Often weapons were placed in tombs surrounding the mummy as protection against evil spirits. These weapons were consecrated to Neith.

In the New Kingdom her association with funerary rites is even greater. She stands, along with Isis, guarding the funeral bier of the pharaoh. In the New Kingdom the mummy wrappings were considered the "gifts of Neith."

In may stories Neith is found being asked to arbitrate between two sides, her combination of military prowess and impartiality renders her very similar to Athena.

Worship: Cult centers in the Delta in the same area as Sobek, her son.

Nephthys, Nebet-het, Nebt-het

Patron of: the dead, funerals, the house, and women.

Appearance: A woman with the symbols for "basket" and "house" on her head.

Description: Nephthys is the sister of Osiris and Isis and the wife of Set. She is a very ancient goddess, first found in Old Kingdom writings. She is often depicted riding in the funeral boat accompanying the dead into the Blessed Land. She is not exactly the personification of death, but she is the closest thing to it in Egyptian belief.

Though the wife of Set, she did not support him in his bid for power in the Osiris Legend. In fact, she does the opposite, aiding her sister Isis in finding the pieces of Osiris' body. She is believed to be the mother of Anubis, and thus stands at the head of an entire family of funerary deities.

She is also revered as the head of the household of the gods, and her protection is given to the head woman of any house. In fact her name is given as a title to such women (literally translated it means "head of the house"). She also stands at the head of the bed to comfort women in childbirth while Bes dances.

Worship: Worshipped widely throughout all of Egypt, though she had no formal temple or cult.

Nun and Naunet, Deities of Chaos and Water

The Egyptians believed that before the world was formed, there was a watery mass of dark, directionless chaos. In this chaos lived the Ogdoad of Khmunu (Hermopolis), four frog gods and four snake goddesses of chaos. These deities were Nun (Nu) and Naunet (water), Amun and Amaunet (invisibility), Heh and Hauhet (infinity) and Kek and Kauket (darkness). The name of the water of chaos was Nun.

It was from Nun that Ra (or Amun, another of the Ogdoad who became prominent Middle Kingdom onward, and joined with the sun god as Amen-Ra) created himself, rising up on the first piece of land - the primeval mound (Benben) out of the lotus blossom, born from the world egg, or as a bnw-bird who then found and landed on the mound. In another story, it was Thoth who awoke from Nun and sang the unnamed four frog gods and snake goddesses who then continued Thoth's song to keep the sun travelling through the sky.

The First Time then began and Ra was thought to have created the universe, including his children - other gods. He brought Ma'at - order - to chaos. Nun was thought to be the father of Ra, who was known as the father of the gods.

Your offering-cake belongs to you, Nun and Naunet,
Who protects the gods, who guards the gods with your shadows.
-- Pyramid Text 301

One story says that Ra's children, Shu and Tefenet, went to explore the waters of Nun. After some time, Ra believed that they were lost, and sent the his Eye out into the chaos to find them. When his children were returned to him, Ra wept, and his tears were believed to have turned into the first humans. Nun then became the protector of the twin deities, protecting them from the demons in his waters. Later on, it was Nun who suggested that Ra sent out his Eye to destroy the humans who were in contempt of the sun god. Finally, it was on Nun's orders that Nut turned into a solar cow, and carried Ra up into the sky after the sun god had grown old and wearied of life on earth.
Nun was thought to exist both outside the universe and as part of every body of water from the Nile to temple pools. The Nile itself was thought to flow from Nun's primordial waters. He was thought to play a part in the rituals involved in laying out the foundation for new temples.

Nun was also thought to continue to exist as subsoil water beneath the earth and as the source of the annual flooding of the Nile River.
-- Encyclopædia Britannica

The god was shown as either a frog-headed man, or as a bearded blue or green man, similar in appearance to Hapi, but wearing the palm frond (symbolising long life) on his head, and holding another in his hand. He was also shown rising up out of a body of water, carrying the solar barque in his up stretched hands.
Though Nun was a being of chaos, he was thought to have a beneficial side rather than the serpent of chaos, Apep, Ra's enemy. The Egyptians believed that Apep had been created when the goddess Neith spat into Nun - her spittle turned into the serpent-demon.

The god of chaos didn't have a priesthood, nor any temples that have been found, and was never worshiped as a personified god. Instead, he was represented at various temples by the sacred lakes symbolising the chaotic waters before the First Time. At Abydos, he is represented by an underground water channel at the Osireion.

The Ogdoad were the original great gods of Iunu (Heliopolis) where they were thought to have helped with creation, then died and retired to the land of the dead where they continued to make the Nile flow and the sun rise every day. Iunu was thought to have been the site of the primeval mound by the priests of the city, and they had a sacred lake known as 'The Sea of Two Knives' and an island known as 'The Isle of Flames'. The lake, attached to a temple, represented Nun's waters, and the island was believed to be the primeval mound itself. Ra was thought to have come into the world out of the giant lotus which grew on the mound:

Out of the lotus, created by the Eight, came forth Ra, who created all things, divine and human.

In Hikuptah (Men-nefer, Memphis), Nun was linked to the creator god, Ptah, and known as Ptah-Nun. Thus both Ptah and Nun were thought to be the father of the sun god Atem, and also thought to be more powerful than the god. He was the 'Heart and the Tongue of the Ennead' (the one of intelligence who had the power to command), and thus the one who was in control, with the sun god being placed a step below the creator god of Hikuptah.

The priests of Waset (Thebes, Modern Luxor), on the other hand, declared that Waset was the site of the Nun's water, and the rising of the primeval mound. Amun, the creator god of Waset, was originally one of the Ogdoad and became the most powerful god of the area. They believed that Amen changed from the invisible chaos deity into the primeval mound. In this form, he created the other gods. He created the lotus, which opened to reveal the child form of Amun-Ra, who then finished the creation of the world. Nun, although he was a powerful force, was thought to have been inert until Amen awoke him from torpor, and used his chaotic waters to create the universe.


Naunet (Nunet), on the other hand, is more obscure than her husband. She was thought to be a snake-headed woman who presided over the watery chaos with Nun. Her name was exactly the same as Nun's, in hieroglyphs, but with the feminine ending for a goddess.

In Hikuptah, she was imagined to be the mother of the sun god, as Nun was the father, combined with Ptah, creator god of the city:

The gods who came into being in Ptah:
Ptah-on-the-great-throne --------.
Ptah-Nun, the father who [made] Atem.
Ptah-Naunet, the mother who bore Atem.
Ptah-the-Great is heart and tongue of the Nine [Gods].
-- Shabaka Stone
The Egyptians of Khmunu believed that the world was surrounded by mountains that helped support the sky, but at their feet was Naunet. They imagined that Ra appeared from these mountains, being reborn daily from the watery abyss.
Naunet was the feminine to Nun's masculine, more of a representation of duality than an actual goddess, so she was even less of a deity than Nun, and more of an abstract.

One day, it was believed that the waters of Nun would eventually inundate the whole world, and once again the universe would become the primordial waste of Nun's chaotic waters.


Patron of: the sky, the firmament.

Appearance: A naked woman painted with stars bending over the world, her hands and feet touching the four cardinal points. She is often shown being held up by Shu and standing over her husband-brother Geb.

Description: Nut is the incredibly ancient sky-goddess. She is the daughter of Shu and Tefnut and the mother of Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. Nut protects the world from the darkness outside it and all the demonic creatures that dwell in that darkness. The sun god (Ra, Khephri, others depending on the myth) would travel along her body each day and at night enter the entrance to the underworld near her fingers.