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NUT

The vault of heaven

 Nut was the idea of heaven or sky (holding the stars), her most recognisable form is that of a woman stretched over the earth - her feet are on the eastern horizon, her hands on the western. Her body is usually shown full of stars (sometimes she is wearing a dress which is similarly full of stars).

The picture of her on the left (from the 'Book of the Dead' belonging to Nestanebtashru) shows her being supported by Shu (god of air and light), separating Nut from Geb (the Earth god).

Nut's family

The Heliopolitan creation places Nut as the wife of Geb (Earth god), and mother to five children - Horus-the-Elder, Isis, Osiris, Nephthys and Seth (Nut is also believed to be the mother to the Sun (although she was the granddaughter of the Sun-god - Re) - each night she swallows the sun - during the night it travels through her body ready to for Nut to give birth to it each morning.

There are two variations on the legends of Nut -

1 - Nut was separated violently from her husband Geb by Shu.

2 - When Re wanted to leave mankind, Nut left Geb and changed herself into the form of a cow - the form in which her son Shu still supports her. (This legend, is told in 'The Book of the Celestial Cow')

Hathor and Nut sometimes can interchange - Nut can sometimes also be seen as a Cow - and as Hathor is also frequently seen as a cow goddess, she can sometimes replace Nut while in this form as a sky goddess - in return Nut takes Hathor's role as goddess of the Dead:

 Goddess of the dead.

Not only was Nut linked with the dead via her Hathor role, she is frequently shown in both on the ceiling of tombs and the undersides of sarcophagi bringing the dead closer with Nut and therefore closer to heaven.

Right - an example of the underside of a sarcophagus lid (this is from the burial at Tanis of Psusennes I - more of this burial can be seen HERE). When closed the face of Nut would lie almost nose-to-nose to that of the mummy.