Hathor, Isis, Ptah, Sokar, Atum
& the “Sun of the Night,” Atum-Ra

Ptah/Jupiter (Ju-Ptah)

The red Sun granted visibility to Horus bodies during the day and it’s highly probable, that on occasion, there were times when planets in superior conjunction (other side of the Sun) were also periodically seen as a result of dust. The only time this is possible today is during a solar eclipse – sunlight is blocked and some of the brighter stars and planets can be observed in the darkened sky.

The god Ptah planet Jupiter

Ptah; god of the planet Jupiter

That being said, an obvious distinction has to be made between night and day. At night the sweep of the ecliptic would obviously be more apparent. As mentioned above, with all the dust and debris it gave the illusion of mountains, mounds, rivers, lakes, rills, channels, fields, etc. Obstacles that had to be navigated before ultimately reaching the next world, the hemispherical dome of heaven (Upper Egypt) canopying our flat earth. They were a number of gods associated with the ecliptic of the night.

The Egyptians saw the most distant region as a giant mental plate that was the floor of heaven (the next world) and the roof of the sky. It was created by the god Ptah who I identify as Jupiter (Ju-ptah). Ptah/Jupiter was the god of craftsmen, rebirth and creation, a master architect, one who made all and created the gods and framer of everything in the universe. Epithets such as “Ptah-South-of-his-Wall” and “Lord of the White Wall” are consistent with Ptah/Jupiter amidst a wall of ecliptic dust and debris.

The blue skullcap worn by Ptah/Jupiter signifies Jupiter flared up blue many times.


Sokar the planet Saturn

The mysterious god Sokar/Saturn

Since the planet Saturn is further away than Jupiter, Saturn was often hidden behind the interplanetary dust. I identify Saturn with the mysterious god of rebirth and Rejuvenation. Sokar/Saturn’s epithets include “Lord of many existences,” “Thou whose substance is like gold in the temples,” “Lord living throughout eternity,” “Brilliant one, both at thy rising and thy setting,” “Him who maketh pleasant all that which breatheth,” and “Lord of the Mysterious Region.” Such traits are consistent with Sokar/Saturn inhabiting a very bewildering dust filled ecliptic.


Triple god Ptah-Sokar-Osiris

The composite god Ptah-Sokar is simply a reference to Jupiter and Saturn in conjunction. Ongoing upheaval would ensue during these encounters. However, due to the incredible distances involved, the Egyptian’s were probably unaware of the absolute turmoil taking place. They merely observed Ptah/Jupiter flaring up and occulting Saturn as they lined up in the night sky. Ptah/Jupiter appeared as a red-disk (also golden) with comet-like plumed tails during these encounters. As a large ‘plumed star’ Ptah-Sokar was also linked with the ‘king of the dead’ Osiris – leading to the tripartite god Ptah-Sokar-Osiris. Such close Royal Conjunctions were represented in the headdress carved on top of mummified figures produced in the Late Period. The horns, in this case, represent the solar wind slamming into Jupiter/Ptah (or possibly rolls of ecliptic dust). The Jovian (i.e. pertaining to Jupiter) magnetosphere is so large that the Sun and its visible corona would fit inside it with room to spare.

Atum (Temu, Tem) – The Creator

God of the Zodiacal light, Band & Gegenschein

We turn our attention to the foremost region of the ecliptic at night.

If the sky is really dark and you know where the Ecliptic lies, then you may notice a faint semi-oval shaped background glow. This is the Zodiacal Light. In exceptionally dark conditions you may see an even fainter extension to the light stretching across the sky – the Zodiacal Band – and if you know where the anti-solar point is (that part of the sky directly opposite the Sun) and you have very good eyesight, you may even spot a faint circular or oval “cloud” known as the Gegenschein or Counterglow. (Underline emphasis)

The Zodiacal Light, Band and Gegenschein are caused by sunlight reflecting off tiny interplanetary dust particles (IDPs), which, like the planets, lie in the plane of the Solar System. These sky glows are one and the same phenomenon: they only look different in shape and brightness because of the angle of the light reflected from the particles in the interplanetary dust cloud.


There was so much dust around that any phenomena associated with interplanetary dust was magnified a ten thousand fold! Accordingly, the Zodiacal Light, Band and Countershine were regularly observed and marvelled at. They comprised the three basic facets of the god Atum, all of them interlinked. The zodiacal light (rising from the horizon) and ecliptic band are to be associated with both the primeval mound and by extension the sacred Benben stone, while the countershine was revered as the Sun of the night.

Primal Mound

Zodiacal Light Gegenschein

Zodiacal Light Gegenschein Countershine

Left Credit: ESO/Y.Beletsky. Right Credit: Cantin1.jpg”>

The photos above feature the Zodiacal Light; a mound, column, often described as triangular defuse glow rising from the horizon after sunset or before sunrise. It is best seen just after sunset in spring, and just before sunrise in autumn, when the zodiac is at a steep angle to the horizon.

Now what if we were to increase the flux of interplanetary dust?

The effects were dramatic – it transformed the ghostly apparition we call the zodiacal light into a mound of real substance – a virtually opaque hill rising up from the horizon. The angle of the ecliptic a factor in its appearance; sometimes a low flat mound, other times it stood tall and column-like. As Ra did battle with the demons of the underworld (under earth), there were also periods when the ecliptic glow spanned out across the heavens – arching across the night sky and forming one enormous east-west primeval hill. Such variants, and more were all embodied in the creator god Atum. As above, the more distant ecliptic was the domain of Ptah/Jupiter (and Sokar/Saturn) whereas the foremost region belonged to Atum. His basic traits offer good support for my identification.

Horemheb kneeling before Atum

God king Horemheb (A guise of Mercury) kneeling (offering) before the Zodiacal God Atum who wears the crown of Upper & Lower Egypt. Credit: Jeff Dahl

Atum was one of the main gods as well as one of the oldest in ancient Egypt. He was not only the creator, but the original creation itself. He was the primeval mound which rose from the waters of creation (Nun). Nun’s name means “primeval waters” and what is been described here is the emergence of the ecliptic mountain (Atum) from the watery abyss – waters that were thought to exist in the heavens (hence the many scenes of gods in sailing boats) as well as under and surrounding our flat oval-shaped earth (Nun, a limitless expanse of motionless water).

I would suggest that the main form of Atum was the primeval hillock that rose from the horizon i.e., zodiacal light and probably less so a full blown arch across the sky. Either way, the reason why Atum’s creation myth prevailed for so long was because it was re-enacted each day. We find similarities to the belief that the sun rose from the waters of chaos each day – a totally understandable belief given my catastrophic model.

Atum’s ecliptic mound was represented in the Benben stone. Benben derives from the word weben meaning “to rise or shine forth.” A vary apt description.

Utterance 600, § 1652 of the Pyramid Texts speaks of Atum as you rose up, as the benben, in the Mansion of the Benu in Heliopolis.

Hymn to Atum

I am He Who Came into Being.I lifted myself from the watery mass, out of stillness.

I did not find a place where I could stand.I was alone.

I took courage in my heart.

I laid the benben (foundation, primeval mound.)

I created other gods to keep me company.

Men and women arose from the tears which came forth from my eyes.

From the earliest times, the portrayal of Benben was stylised in two ways; the first was as a pointed, pyramidal form, which was probably the model for pyramids and obelisks. In recognition of these connections, the gilded cap-stone placed at the very top of each pyramid or obelisk was known as a benbenet. The other form was round-topped; this was probably the origin of Benben as a free standing votive object, and an object of veneration.


Obelisk of Pharaoh Senusret I

Obelisk; Symbolic of heavenly beams of light

Benben stone from the tomb of the priest Rer in Abydos, Egypt.

The Benben: Less so a beam, more like a mound.

Left: Obelisk of Pharaoh Senusret I, modern Heliopolis.

Right: Benben stone from the tomb of the priest Rer in Abydos, Egypt.

Referring to the two images of the zodiacal light above; it’s not difficult to see a column/cone of light and/or the outline of a pyramid shape, or simple a mound. The fact is zodiacal light is often described a triangular. It is equally not difficult to understand how such apparitions were symbolically represented in the benben stone and by extension the obelisk.

Some benbenet’s are adorned with red ‘sun disks’ between two mounds (image above). It forms the hieroglyphic sign for “horizon” (akhet). The placement of the glyph is no coincidence. It represents the rising (or setting) Sun amidst the ecliptic mound. Not wishing to complicate matters but I have to point out that many Horus bodies would also ‘construct’ their own columns of light and pyramid mounds as they too “Shined Like Ra” and “Rose Like Ra” amidst the zodiacal dust (or just dust). It’s what led to the construction of pyramids and obelisks for Egypt’s divine royal family (there’s a bit more to this). There are also strong links between the benben and the benu bird (Egyptian Phoenix). For now, both subject for future articles.

Atum Scarab

Atum scarab, Karnak, Luxor, Egypt

Atum could also be represented as a sacred scarab – signifying the concentrated mass of dust and debris on the horizon from which Ra and many other incandescent planetary ‘balls’ were seen to emerge from on the morn.


In the creation myths, the primal creator Atum is said to have created himself (or arose out of nothing) and created the first gods, Shu (air) and Tefnut (moisture), from his spittle. Shu and Tefnut gave birth to the earth (Geb) and the sky (Nut) who in turn give birth to Osiris (star-form), Isis (daytime ecliptic), Set (chaos), Nephthys (close to Isis, ecliptic) and Horus (ruling red planetary body in the image of the red sun).

The belief that Atum created himself should not surprise us, in that physically, there wasn’t much to point to as being the creator of the zodiacal dust – Atum seemed to be self-forming. The act of creating himself is probably the reason why the Egyptians chose to represent Atum in his mainly anthropomorphic form.

A variation would be the Memphite creation myth which puts Atum as the first creation of Ptah, who simply said his name and he came into being. This would make sense, since Ptah/Jupiter must have appeared “in” or close to Atum’s mound on many occasions. Ptah/Jupiter was accordingly credited with creating Atum (later times). The “union” of Jupiter with the zodiacal mound no doubt led to the composite god Ptah-Atum (Ptah-Tem) of which there are many references. Similarly, there were times when both Ptah/Jupiter and Sokar/Saturn would appear together within Atum’s zodiacal light, leading to the triad known as Ptah-Sokar-Atum (in Heliopolis).

It is weird to think that catastrophic encounters between Ptah/Jupiter and Sokar/Saturn did actually play a big part in creating Atum’s dust and debris. Perhaps the Egyptians physically saw something to connect Ptah/Jupiter with Atum? An illuminated trail of debris perhaps? I would suggest so.

Lord of Totality

Horus bodies reigned supreme, the skies were as awash with comets, asteroids, dust and debris – however, emphasis has to be placed on the ecliptic where countless tons of debris was gravitationally drawn in to settle along the ecliptic plane. Atum’s mound was a dynamic concentrated hive of activity as masses of debris were born from as well as consumed by Atum. Hence, Atum was seen as the one who completes everything and finishes everything – the “Lord of Totality.” He had the ability to literally absorb and consume other gods as well as demons.

Atum was the monad from whom all else originally came. One of the translations of his name could be “totality”, and in the Coffin Texts and elsewhere he is specifically called the “lord of totality”. Essentially, everything which existed was considered a part of the flesh of Atum, and every individual thing was said to be one of millions of the god’s kas (souls), a concept which not only stressed the gods primacy in coming before all else, but also his importance as a universal god.


Atum is not only the creator, but the annihilator of creation. In a dialogue between Atum and Osiris in the Book of the Dead, Atum states that he will eventually destroy the world, submerging gods, men and Egypt back into the primal waters (Nun), which were all that existed at the beginning of time. In this nonexistence, Atum and Osiris will survive in the form of serpents.

Hathor – Atum’s daughter, other times his consort.

If my identifications are correct, then it stands to reason that there should be some sort of relationship between Atum and Hathor – the zodiacal mound and earth’s rings. This is indeed exactly what we find.

For instance, in the early Enneadic cosmogony, where Atum creates the universe through his divine onanism, this act is often described as a union of two gendered principles, with Atum as the male power (the divine phallus) and Hathor as the “hand of Atum.”


In Egyptian mythology, Nebethetepet was the manifestation of Hathor at Heliopolis. She was associated with the sun-god Atum. Her name means “Mistress of the Offering.”


Hathor was represented as Atum’s either of the two hands that he used to “copulate” with himself (creating the universe). She came to be known as the Hand of Atum.


I would suggest that what is been described here is the intersection of earth’s rings with the ecliptic – a region spanning several thousand kilometers where masses of gasses, dust and debris constituting earth’s equatorial dust collided and mixed with similar debris residing along the ecliptic plane. A real mess – an analogy would be a cloud of star forming gasses (semen). From the perspective of earth, Hathor was seen to both make offerings to Atum and by using her ‘hand,’ to ‘assist’ in the creation of the universe. If Hathor wasn’t around then, as the record show, Atum used his own fist. Either way, we are presented with a “as you would expect” relationship between the two deities.

In a similar vein, Atum’s hymn above contains the line “Men and women arose from the tears which came forth from my eyes.” We can see this as a reference to the many bright spots (in reality collisions, explosions) within Atum that produced numerous bits of material perceived to be the kas or souls of humans (See GKS 1).