The Book of the Dead (Revisited)

And then there was a dark oceanic body. It was called Nu and its closed waters contained no abyss dwellers. Only a calm primordial stillness was present in this windless state of Nu. There was no above or below as time was timelessly infinite, and nothing was everything.

Nu’s waters began to rumble and shake chaotically. It was in that moment that the first and the last was revealed, and the head of a serpent slowly rose from the abyss on a mound called Benben. The serpent was Atum and he took on many different forms. Atum wrapped himself around Benben and looked up to a burning disk. This bright disk was called Aten and it was not in the sky, for sky had not yet been created. But what was created on Benben was the shadow of Atum, Iusaaset.

Atum saw Iusaaset and was not afraid. They looked at each other closely and Iusaaset seemed to be living on her own as she lifted from the ground. One slither forward and the shadow was closer to Atum. Another slither and they were directly below Aten, face to face.

Iusaaset slithered into Atum. The union caused Atum to sneeze out the god, Shu, and spit out the goddess, Tefnut. Air blew from Shu’s feathered head, and moisture accumulated between Tefnut’s three legs. Their heads were furry like lions.

Atum transformed into a two legged being and ascended to speak with Aten. Before leaving, Atum gave Tefnut the ankh of life and said, “Do not travel into the darkness of Nu alone, for life is here.”

And with that, Atum was gone, but his presence was felt. Incidentally, his commands told Shu and Tefnut exactly what to do, so they did.

They both wandered into the darkness of Nu. No one could hear their moans or see them move. They became lost in proximity and in each other. In fact, Nu was so overwhelmingly dark and mystique that even once Atum had gained control over Aten, he could not find his children. He brought light to Benben and the dark body of Nu, but was disappointed to find no one.

Eventually, Atum grew sad, and his right eye escaped from its socket. Iusaaset was inside of the eye that was green with hope. Before Atum could put her back, Iusaaset rushed away to find Shu and Tefnut.

Isuaaset struggled to find Shu and Tefnut in the darkness of Nu, but when she, in eye form, couldn’t see them, she began to water with sadness. So much sadness that she shoved herself back into the eye socket of a sad Atum.

From Nu, Shu and Tefnut appeared. Straddled around the high head of Shu was a young goddess, Nut. And walking below his knees was the young god, Geb. With Nut and Geb came sky and Earth. As Shu and Tefnut approached Atum, Nut and Geb fought with each other, a friendly skirmish that would last till the ends of time.

No words were spoken, but with their arrival, came tears of joy that began to form in the eyes of Atum. Two dark droplets fell from him unto land, and two dark droplets became man and woman in his image.

“You are humans,” Atum said to them. “Worship all of my forms and all that I create. Multiply on this new land and live until I appear unto you as a serpent.”

One of them nodded their heads, and then the other. They felt their freedom standing on Benben that had become land and water, and the above that was now windy skies.

In all their forms, Atum and his creations interacted with the humans on Earth, and continued to exist in life, death and the in-between. Those gods and goddesses were within and without, forever watching their children grow.

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