Interview with Atum (Tem)
Blogging Creation: Up and Atum
It's kinda lonely out here. I mean, what's a god to do when the entire world doesn't really exist and there's nobody to talk to? Well, except you, dear Internet.
I'm Atum, best and brightest of the gods of ancient Egypt. You might be wondering why I'm taking the time to blog about my life. It's because, as the first god to come out of the Egyptian woodwork—or waterworks, as you'll soon see—I've got a lot to talk about.
When I first came into being, I popped out of the great waters of Egypt, also called the god Nu. My name means "finisher," which shows that I was the finishing touch the universe wanted to put on itself... before I brought all the other gods into being. Some accounts even say I was hatched out of an egg, but that would make me the ancient version of Lady Gaga… so, I'll pass.
Theoretically, I was always present in the waters of Nu before I made my big, splashy debut, but when I decided to pop open, that's when the fun began. After I jumped out of the water, I created the most beautiful beings in this new world—just now, in fact! They're my son and daughter, Shu and Tefnut. Eventually, I'm going to have a whole bunch of grandkids—we'll number nine all together. We'll be known as the "Ennead," or "group of nine." (Creative, I know.)
So it turns out I've got a really good posse of kids and grandkids! Shu and Tefnut are the sweetest. They decided to get together to have babies—that's nothing new in ancient Egypt. Their kids are Geb, the earth, and Nut, the sky. Then Geb and Nut produced the great Osiris—yep, I'm the great-granddad of the king of the dead!—along with his sometimes-nasty brother Seth, and their sisters Isis and Nephthys. Pretty sweet family tree, don't you think?
While it's really nice having all these young ones to take care of me, they seem to forget that I'm not that old. But somehow I've become the old guy in this group! I guess that makes sense, considering they're all so young, but I've still got a lot of fight left in me.
We all live together in the city of Heliopolis, better known to ancient Egyptians as "Iunu." Because we're all worshiped here, my family's saga has become known as the Heliopolitan creation myth. I don't know about the "myth" part, but the rest sounds right.
Okay, so I've been told by some that we're now in what's called the "Old Kingdom." Again, I feel offended—I'm not that old—but whatever. My great-grandson Osiris ruled over Egypt for a bit, but after a really annoying battle with his brother Seth for the throne, O was killed. His sister, Isis, had his baby, who became Horus, the greatest king we've seen so far.
The problem with Egypt now, though, is that all of these kings are mortals! How can you expect a guy who's going to die in however-many years to rule properly over Egypt, the eternal kingdom? At this point, these young'ns have gotten so far removed from the original Egyptian pantheon that they've mushed me together with another god, Re, lord of the sun. Now, they call us "Re-Atum." Ugh.
I don't get it! Am I not divine enough for them in my original form? Is Re not shiny enough? Not bright enough? He's the sun, for Pete's sake! Now, together, we're the setting sun. Huh.
It definitely helps that, as Re-Atum, we're the pre-eminent god in Egypt… but I'm still miffed.
Comment [by Osiris]
Atum's definitely an opinionated one, isn't he? And he's telling history from his perspective. I think he left a few things out—including another version of the creation story that we all know.
So here's the real story. One day, Atum was working out really hard. You know, one of those cardio-bootcamp workouts that you buy on HSN at midnight when you realize how much belly flab you have from the holiday season. He was working up a really good lather, when all of the sudden, his sweat dropped to the ground. We other gods sprang up like fully-formed flowers from his sweat, nice and stinky.
Atum also forgot about his creation of humans! I know they're just mortals and all, but really—where would we gods be if they didn't make us offerings and all of that good stuff, you know?
At one point, somebody—we still don't know who—stole Atum's eye. I'm not sure how it happened, but it did. Luckily, Shu and Tefnut retrieved it. When his eye was placed in his head, Atum was so happy he cried! And when his tears hit the ground, humans sprang up like little flowers. They might be annoying, but we gods definitely need them.