Ennead of Heliopolis (Iunu)

The Ancient Egyptians had many gods, but some were closely connected to each other in groupings known as “Pesedjets” and associated with defined location. The Pyramid Texts (Old Kingdom) refer to a number of groups of gods, of which the Great Pesdjet is now known to us as “The Ennead”. The Ennead (derived from the Greek word for nine) are the nine ancient Egyptian Gods and Godesses associated with the creation myths of Heliopolis (Iunu) in Lower Egypt.

Ennead, Papyrus of Ani
Ennead, Papyrus of Ani

In the beginning there was nothing (Nun). A mound of earth rose from Nun and upon it Atum (later Amun or Re) created himself. He did not want to be alone so he masturbated (or spat) producing air (Shu), and moisture (Tefnut). Shu and Tefnut gave birth to the earth (Geb) and the sky (Nut). Geb and Nut were separated by Shu, creating our world. The children of Nut and Geb were Osiris, Horus the elder, Set, Isis and Nephthys.

We do not know when the Ennead were first worshipped, but certainly as early as the Fifth dynasty of the Old Kingdom. However, their prime position was not assured. In Memphis Ptah was the creator god, while in Thebes Montu (and later Amun) was the foremost god. By the sixth dynasty Horus (especially when he merged with Ra as Horakhty) was in the ascendancy, although distinct members of the Ennead (especially Osiris, Set, Isis and Nepythys) remained both popular and powerful. The Greek term was coined by Greek scholars in Egypt during the twentieth dynasty towards the end of the New Kingdom.

copyright J Hill 2015