The ancient Egyptian word netjer, translated as “god/goddess, divine,” is the root of the Latin word “nature,” thus the ancient concept is the ultimate root of our modern concept of “Mother Nature.” The netjers are universal aspects of individual human experience, the archetypes of human reality, as well as the reality of the space/time universe in which all humans live. The meaning of “nature” is closer to the Egyptian original than our modern understanding of “gods/goddesses, divine,” therefore, the spelling “Nayture” will be used when referring to the ancient Egyptian gods.
The hieroglyph for netjer is a flag on a pole, spread out by the breeze.
Flagpoles stood at the front of shrines and temples from the earliest days along the Nile until the last. Flags are signals for navigation, banners of life. A flag is inanimate matter given animation by the invisible force of the air. The wind uses flags to dance just as the X uses flesh to dance.
The Naytures are the archetypes of reality personified, metaphors transformed into recognizable faces and stories. The Naytures are teachers and teaching aids, vibrant with the living energy of the minds who created them. For example, Osiris is the nature of X’s mysterious substance. Rae is the nature of consciousness. Isis is the nature of the X’s bonding integrity, the nature of love. Horus is the nature of self-identity and Suty is the nature of discipline, and so on. These images sprang out of universal human nature. At the same time, they show the personal natures of the people who lived by the Nile. Egypt’s art has the breath of naturalism, yet shows clearly the nature of their fascination with abstract expression.
The ancient Egyptians believed that every religion is true and that all faith is valid because they arise from this cosmic mystery of being you.
In ancient Egypt, women were the carriers of creative energy and men were the activators of creation. Egyptian mythology does not have the Indo-European Earth Mother Goddess. Isis, sister/wife of Osiris and mother of Horus, is a sky Nayture. Earth is male. He was Geb, the Great Honker whose voice first woke Rae out of the energy-fields of space-time, and the sky above was Nut, Geb’s beloved wife. These two are the parents of Osiris, Horus, Suty, Isis and Nephthys, in other words, the parents of humanity. The social equality of the women of the Nile was established early because in their totally handmade world, without women there was nothing — no society, no family, no one. Just the desert and mud.
The initial trinity was the family mother, father and child, representing the energy of your psyche, the physicality of your psyche and the experience of your psyche. A trinity of trinities created their sacred number nine. The Naytures have two major groupings of nine each, the Paut Nayture, (Paut is also translated as Ennead, meaning “The Nine.”) reflecting the symmetry of the ba and the ka, inner and outer.
The Great Paut are the primary molecules of individual humans, and the Small Paut are the universally shared experiences that bind us together into a functioning society and a cohesive civilization.
The Great Paut are Osiris, Horus-Ur, Suty, Isis, Nephthys, Nut, Geb, Shu and Tafnut. These are what created you. Shu and Tafnut, atmosphere and chemistry, are the parents of Geb and Nut, the Earth and the Sky. The five children of the Earth and Sky are your essential elements — Osiris, who is your X; Horus, who is your unique identity; Suty, who is discipline; Isis, who is love, and her sister Nephthys, who is loyalty. These are the archetypes of individual human life, the energies of the collective unconscious which are the universal experiences of life. These forces, balanced together, make you human. The Great Paut are the lead citizens of your inner world. Their story is your story — in your own words, of course.
Atum Rae is the chief of the Naytures in the Great Paut. Atum Rae is the conscious awareness of time’s arrow, asymmetrical life in a symmetrical universe.
“Creator of the Sky and the Earth, Molder of Mountains, Creator of the water for the Great Flood,
Maker of the bull for the cow, bringing sexual pleasure into being, Controller of the Inundation ...”
Rae consciousness is the parent of Shu and Tafnut, thus the source of you and everyone else. Egyptians saw themselves as the “Children of Rae,” in other words, born of universal consciousness, a belief that survives in the philosophies of the Ganges and the Yellow River. Only the Nile, however, had Horus.
“The power of every Nayture is within me and I say the name.”
The Small Paut are variable, but most often they are Thoth, Amun, Ptah, Khnum, Bastet, Hathor, Khopry, Sakhmet, Neith and Mut. Also appearing in the Small Paut are Apophis, Atum, Base, Khopry, Min, Seshat, Sobak, Sorqet and Taueris. The grouping depends on individual need and preference.
Thoth is your mind, the thoughts in your head, the ideas. All actions begin in the mind. Amun is the contract, the oaths that bind humans together into a society. He is organization. Amun is civilized. Ptah works. He is the people who create the comforts and wonders of civilized life. Khnum, the Ram, is obedience, the power of your mind over your flesh, the “horns of your mind” by which you grasp control of yourself and participate in society. Bastet is fun, the greatest gift of civilization. Hathor is pleasure. She is romance and the arts. She is the “Golden One.” She is your mother. Sakhmet is passion, a rage to live and all the fires of the blood. She gives you the drive to greatness and she can destroy you just as easily. Neith is the weaver, the patron of all fiber technology and weaver of the webs that bind us, physical and emotional. She also represents the contributions of young women and unmarried women. Mut is your mother-in-law — a vital player in the roles that keep society intact and moving forward. (Each of these Naytures will be discussed further in individual chapters.)
These two great companies of Naytures constitute the realities of humanity as individuals and as groups — you and your place in the world with other human beings.
The root of the Paut concept is the loaf of bread used in offerings. Every ceremony in Egypt involved bread. The hieroglyph for hotep, “to give offering/to be at peace,” is a loaf of bread on an offering tray. Breaking bread together is a primary gesture of civilized life. The word companion has its origins there, “together with bread.” There is more to bread than the eating. Bread is a beautiful symbol of human cooperation, the first great benefit of an evolving civilization.
The bread metaphor is very old. Fire is natural, spontaneous magic. Fire can create itself, rain down from the sky or burst out of the ground. Fire is a metaphor for natural forces only nominally under human control. Bread is a different magic. Bread is completely human, as unique as the person who bakes it. Grass nourishes only animals, thus grass, like fire, is natural. The seeds of grasses, however, will feed humans, and flour made from seeds is a new substance, not like grass or seeds. When water is mixed with flour it becomes remarkably like flesh, yielding, warm to the touch. Bread can be molded to any shape and, once baked, holds that shape and becomes “of one flesh.”
Bread is a product of the mind, hand and energy of humans — and human cooperation. Baked bread is not like its parts, not energy like fire, not wet like water, not dry like flour, yet these are transformed by the union of opposites. The human mind has created something wholly other, something wholly human. The same is true of pottery — shattered and whole, wet and dry are combined by heat into one flesh. This cohesion is strong, yet when broken, it is as permanently broken as it once was whole. Broken pottery cannot be remolded; broken bread cannot be re-baked; dead flesh will not rise. This magical coherency is the concept behind the ancient Paut, the gathered forces of the Naytures that comprise reality and humanity.