In Egyptian mythology,
Shu (meaning dryness and he who rises up) is one of the primordial
gods, a personification of air, one of the Ennead
of Heliopolis. He was created by Atum
from his breath, resulting from an act of masturbation or autofellatio
in the city of Heliopolis. With his sister, Tefnut
(moisture), he was the father of Nuit
and Seb. His daughter, Nuit, was the
sky goddess whom he held over the Earth (Geb),
separating the two.
As the air, Shu was considered to be cooling, and thus calming,
influence, and pacifier. Due to the association with air,
calm, and thus Maat, Shu was portrayed
in art as wearing an ostrich feather.
In a much later myth, representing the terrible weather disaster
at the end of the Old Kingdom, it was said that Tefnut
and Shu once argued, and Tefnut (moisture)
left Egypt for Nubia (which was always more temperate). It
was said that Shu quickly decided that he missed her, but
she changed into a cat that destroyed any man or god that
approached. Thoth, disguised, eventually
succeeded in convincing her to return.
Due to the shared headdress, and Shu's position as the one
who holds up the sky, Shu was later identified as Anhur, whose
name could mean Sky Bearer, becoming Anhur-Shu. Since Anhur
was the more popular and significant deity, and, indeed, Shu
was more a concept than a god, Shu was eventually absorbed
completely into Anhur.
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