Naunet & Nun
I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
The Watery Abyss
In the Hermopolitan Ogdoad, which is Greek for Eightfold, the Ancient Egyptians worshipped eight primordial deities in Hermopolis. These were Naunet and Nun (water), Amaunet and Amun (invisibility), Hauhet and Heh (infinity), and Kauket and Kek (darkness). These deities did not have temples or any centre of worship. Even so, Nun was sometimes represented by a sacred lake, or, like in Abydos, by an underground stream. This God’s feminine aspect is Naunet.
The word nu means watery abyss, but there is also a wordplay connected with this, using the word nen, which means inactivity. So raising someone from the watery abyss, the subconscious or Underworld, also meant raising him or her out of inactivity. And once you are active, you are actively creating your own life. You are claiming your creative power, whether consciously or unconsciously, and wilding it. You are claiming your place in the physical life manifest on earth as a human being with a body of flesh.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that the primordial ocean surrounded a kind of bubble or sphere in which life was encapsulated. It was the deepest mystery in the old religion. Also, from these waters, the original mound of land had come forth. The Nun ocean is the source of all existence, the divine as well as earthly aspects. Water, as an element is representative of the emotions, but when the water is completely still, energy is not in motion (e-motion), which means that there is no creation yet, because, for this, energy has to be moving, vibrating at a certain rate to put it in formation by divine intelligent consciousness.
Once there is movement, there is creation. Energy is being put into an order, a formation, and thus, brought into mental, emotional and physically manifest form. In the late period of Egypt, when the country was occupied, Nun was associated with chaos, as this meant, the lack of divine order now present in the country through foreign rule. The waters were turbulent, creating chaos and no longer offering a pool of unlimited possibilities of creation. However, in this context, we will concentrate on Nun, or, in his female aspect, Naunet, as mythology originally intended, a pool of untapped possibilities ready to be brought to life by you in conscious creation into manifest form.
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The Cycle of Life
Naunet, as well as the other three Goddesses of the Ogdoad, was depicted with snakes on her head. The four Gods were shown as or with frogs. Nun was depicted as a bearded man with either blue or green skin to represent water and fertility.
Naunet is the Guardian of the twelve veils, twelve gateways on remote points on land or in the deep sea, that lead to the Underworld. They are the flaws of Creation, the cracks through which Nun, the final void can be reached. Nun, the deep still primordial ocean, the great void, is roughly comparable to the Buddhist Nirvana, where the soul enters when it no longer takes part in the cycle of reincarnation and is free of all karmic ties. From there, the new soul is born to once again enter the Cycle of Life.
Naunet dwells between those gateways and emerges from them to defend these portals to other worlds or dimensions against interlopers. She destroyed those who sought forbidden knowledge by entering the gates and sent them onto their next life. The twelve veils are also veils of perception, of illusion that we need to function in a physical, three-dimensional world. Without these mutually agreed upon illusionary perceptions, for example, that our bodies are solid when they are, in fact, vibrating energy with mostly empty space between the tiniest parts of us like atoms, neutrons, electrons and so on, we would not be able to make sense of and move in physical reality.
However, Naunet is the ultimate Mother, the womb of Creation where cycles of life, death and rebirth continue for all creatures and beings. She is depicted as the one who has freed all creations to pursue their individual life cycles making her “the Mother of all Mothers.” Naunet births each individual creature to give it life in manifest form. This soul or spirit can then enter the cycle of life, death and rebirth until it ultimately returns to the Nun, the primordial ocean, which will once again rise in a great flood, swallowing all in its wake. It is, perhaps, noteworthy to observe that there is a mythological story of a great flood bringing about the end of the world in all cultures and religions.
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The Silence Before Creation
Nun was not only the primordial ocean, but was also existent on earth as lakes or underground waters. At the temple in Abydos, there was a stream. In Christian Jacq’s Ramses series, there is a scene in which the Lake of Nun is shaped like a sickle moon and guarded by a crocodile, the reincarnation of Sobek. Pharaoh has to bathe in the lake to purify himself without being attacked by the great reptile who will only allow those of pure heart to enter the waters of Nun and emerge unharmed. Needless to say, Ramses survived to live on to become the most famous of all Egyptian pharaohs, a legend whose adventures are told to this day, several thousand years later.
Naunet is also the mother of the Sungod Ra. He is born each day from the waters to travel the sky before being once again reunited with the umbilical waters in the evening. His children, Shu (Wind) and Tefnut (Moisture) once explored these waters and Ra sent his eye after them when he feared they were lost to the demons in the deep waters. When they were recovered, he shed tears of joy which turned into the first humans and Nun-Naunet henceforth became the protector of the twin deities to protect them from the demons lurking in the waters.
The Egyptians believed that the world was surrounded by mountains on which the sky (Goddess Nut) was supported. At the feet of those mountains dwelled Naunet. In the old religious texts, Naunet is more of an abstract than a Goddess in personification, but at the same time, she forms the counter-heaven to Nut, the sky Goddess, thus being the Underworld through which Ra travels at night before he is reborn from the waters to travel the heavens once again during the day.
In my romance novel Balcony Above the Sea, Keturah, the female protagonist, leads a busy lifestyle in London that has developed into a succession of stress and people disrespecting her boundaries. Her creativity and work, and with it, her livelihood, get affected and she decides to walk away from it all, spend time in silence, retreat into reclusion in a different place, even a different country altogether. However, retreating is not the same as running away and Keturah has to learn this, as the same energy she meant to leave behind catches up with her and she is once again thrown into a similar situation to that she left.
This time, however, she makes a conscious and empowered decision to neither participate nor run away. Instead, she retreats into the stillness of her own inner peace and holds the intention of the outcome she desires in her heart until it is manifest. In this way, she is using her innate power of Naunet to create that which she desires consciously.
As Nun was also associated with the Nile inundation, it makes sense to think that this primaeval water is also the responsible one for the flood that will one day swallow all of Creation again and cover it with its chaotic (or still) waters. Naunet is the primaeval space. She is the atmosphere in which Creation is born and exists until its ultimate destruction. Thus, Nun and Naunet are the masculine and feminine aspect of the beginning of all Creation, before the primaeval mound was born from the waters to form the world, the land which the Bennu Bird (Phoenix) found, much like the dove in the Biblical story of the flood with Noah’s ark.
Naunet is the stillness, the space we create within that is always there at the same time which is the atmosphere in which we create, either consciously or unconsciously, but create we do in each moment of our existence. In fact, to exist in the flesh is to create. When we feel things are spiralling out of control, that we no longer have control and are at the mercy of circumstances or other people, Nun and Naunet call to us to return to the roots and go into stillness, creating a totally blank canvas, a clean slate from which to create that which we desire.
When we get lost in the daily mayhem of a busy life, we are called upon to pause, suspend all mindless action and retreat into stillness to find ourselves again, our own essence, stripped bare of all encumbrance of mundane life. Once we have reconnected with our essence, put the demons within the stillness at bay that threaten to throw us into chaos, our shadow parts, our fears and limiting beliefs, unhealthy negative patterns and people manifesting in our lives, we emerge from the waters of Nun as powerful, purified creators in order to create from our essence within, formidable, empowered and in control over our own destiny.