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A glazed faience pendant amulet of the Egyptian god Shu, 26th Dynasty, in the British Museum

Shu is one of the twin children of the ancient Egyptian creator-god Atum, whom Atum produced by either spitting or masturbation, depending on the ancient Egyptian scripture one follows. His twin sister -- and wife -- is Tefnut. Shu's domain is air, lightness, and wind. He is symbolized by feathers, especially those of the ostrich, and may be depicted as a man with an ostrich-plume feather headdress. His association with the feather emblem linked him symbolically to another of the Egyptian deities or netjeru, the gooddess Maat, who represents truth, justice, harmony, and balanced thought and is also shown with an ostrich plume.

Like his sister Tefnut, Shu is a defender of the Sun and thus may be seen with the head or mask of a lion, but mostly he is depicted as a young, athletic man holding up the sky, upon which rests a solar disk or ball. For this reason, the Greeks identified Shu with their own god Atlas, the ancient Titan who is also depicted holding up a celestial sphere. In primordial times, Shu separated Earth from Sky and Day from Night, making life possible on earth. In the later cosmology of Heliopolis, the dry air god Shu and the moist air goddess Tefnut were said to have created the sky goddess Nut and earth god Geb. This later cosmology features Shu, in his role as cosmic divider, separating Nut from Geb while they were making love and producing their own children, Isis, Osiris, Horus, and Set.

As a god of wind and air, whose bones are clouds and fog, Shu has a cooling and calming presence and is a source of peace and tranquility. Within ancient and modern Kemetic, African, and African-Diasporic traditions, it is held those with breathing difficulties, as well as those who live in areas of low air quality, may call upon Shu for the blessings of unobstructed breathing and for natural access to clean and unpolluted air, free of particulate matter or foul odors.

Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who practice in the North African religion of ancient Egypt or contemporary Kemetic Neo-Paganism, and who call upon the netjeru on behalf of clients, may petition Shu for matters of spiritual cleansing, the blessings of clean air, and protection from evil.


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