Tagged: Tefnut

Tefnut is a significant deity in ancient Egyptian mythology and cosmology. She is often associated with moisture, moisture-bearing winds, dew, and rain.

Birth

Tefnut is one of the earliest Egyptian deities. According to the Heliopolitan creation myth, she and her twin brother Shu were the first deities created by Atum, the sun god and the primeval deity of the Ennead of Heliopolis. Atum either spat them out or, in some versions, created them through masturbation.

Attributes

Tefnut’s name is related to the root “nft” which means “to spit” or “to moisten,” relating her to watery elements. She’s often considered the goddess of moisture or wetness.

Iconography

In art, Tefnut is often depicted as a lioness or as a woman with a lioness’s head, representing her fierce and destructive aspect. She can also be seen as a woman with the head of a snake. On her head, she often carries the solar disk and the uraeus, the rearing cobra symbol of royalty and divine authority.

Her association with Shu

Tefnut and her brother Shu, the god of air, are often inseparable in mythological contexts. Together, they represent the space between the earth and the heavens, with Shu holding up the sky (represented by their daughter Nut) and keeping it separate from the earth (represented by their son Geb).

Myth of the Distant Goddess

In one famous myth, Tefnut, angered or upset, retreated to Nubia, leaving Egypt without moisture, causing a drought. Her father, Atum, sent the god Thoth to persuade her to return. Upon her return, she brought a great flood, ending the drought. This myth is symbolic of the cyclical nature of the Nile’s flooding and the return of moisture.

Cult and Worship

While not as widely worshiped as some other major Egyptian deities, Tefnut was honored in various temples, especially in Heliopolis and Leontopolis, where she was worshiped in her leonine form.