The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were an important part of religion. They were considered to be Gods in early times. In later times, around the third dynasty, the kings became "transformed into" Gods. Pharaoh means "Great House," meaning the House for a God to reside in. Concerning religious matters, under the king were the priests. Their duty was to take care of the idols of the Gods. They prepared statues for religious festivals and gave sacrifices to the Gods. Ancient Egyptians were very dedicated to their gods and worshipped them every day. Their way of life revolved around these beliefs. They believed in magic and amulets and that was a vital part of their life.
In the beginning there was only water, churning and bubbling water. This the Egyptians called Nu or Nun. It was out of Nu that everything began.
As with the Nile, each year the floods caused problems with all living creatures on the land, so this represents Nu. Eventually the floods would stop and out of the water
would come a hill of dry land, one at first, then more. On this first dry hilltop, on the first day, came the first sunrise. So that is how the Egyptians explain the beginning of all things.
Not surprisingly, the sun was among the most important elements in Egyptian lives and therefore had an important role as a creator god. As the rising sun, his name was Khepri, a scarab beetle, or Ra-Harakhte, who was seen as a winged solar-disk. As the sun reached noon, it was called Ra, the strong and the great.
When the sun set in the West it was known as Atum, the old man, or Horus on the horizon. The sun was also said to be an egg laid daily by Geb, the goose known as the "great cackler."
To the Egyptians, the moon was any one of a number of gods. As an attribute of the god Horus, the moon represented his left eye while his right eye was the sun. Seth was a lunar god. In his fights with the sun-god Horus, Seth is seen as a God of darkness and evil, doing constant battle with the god of light.
The sky was a goddess called Nut. She was often shown as a cow standing over the earth, her two eyes being the moon and sun. She is kept from falling by Shu who is the god of wind and air. Nut gave birth to the sun daily. The sun would ride in the "Solar Barque" across Nut's star-covered belly. Then as evening fell, Nut would swallow the sun creating darkness.
The Creator: Atum
In the beginning there was only the swirling waters called Nu. Out of these chaotic waters rose Atum, the sun god of the city Heliopolis. It is believed he created himself, using his will and his thoughts. Since he found no place to stand, at the place where he first appeared, he created a hill. It is said to be the spot on which the temple of Heliopolis was built. And that was how our world was born. But it was all empty.
His next act was to create more gods. Because he was all alone, without a friend, he reproduced with his shadow. This unusual way of creating offspring wasn't considered odd to the Egyptians. Atum was regarded as a bisexual God and was sometimes called "The Great He-She." That way, the Egyptians were able to present Atum as the one and only creative force in the Universe.
According to some texts, the birth of Atum's children took place on that first hill. In other texts, Atum stayed in the waters of Nu to create his son and daughter. He gave birth to his son by spitting him out and vomited up his daughter. His son was Shu and His daughter, Tefnut. Shu represented the air and Tefnut was a goddess of moisture. They continued the act of creation by establishing a social order. To this, Shu contributed the "principles of Life" while Tefnut contributed the "principles of order."
Eventually, Shu and Tefnut became separated from their father and became lost in the waters of Nu. Atum, who had but one eye which was removable, searched for his children. In time they returned with the eye. At this reunion, Atum wept tears of happiness, and where those tears fell, men grew. Thus, our earth was born.