- Sekhmet, Ptah and Nefertum
In Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet (also spelled Sachmet, Sakhet, Sekmet, Sakhmet and Sekhet; and given the Greek name, Sacmis), was originally the warrior goddess of Upper Egypt. She is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians. It was said that her breath created the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare.
Her cult was so dominant in the culture that when the first pharaoh of the twelfth dynasty, Amenemhat I, moved the capital of Egypt to Itjtawy, the centre for her cult was moved as well. Religion, the royal lineage, and the authority to govern were intrinsically interwoven in Ancient Egypt during its approximately three thousand years of existence. Sekhmet also is a solar deity, often considered an aspect of the Goddesses Hathor and cats Bast. She bears the solar disk, and the Uraeus which associates her with Wadjet and royalty. With these associations she can be construed as being a divine arbiter of Ma'at (Justice, or Order), The Eye of Horus and connecting her with Tefnut as well.
Upper Egypt is in the south and Lower Egypt is in the delta region in the north. As Lower Egypt had been conquered by Upper Egypt, Sekhmet was seen as the more powerful of the two warrior goddesses, the other, Bast, being the similar warrior goddess of Lower Egypt. Consequently, it was Sekhmet who was seen as the Avenger of Wrongs, and the Scarlet Lady, a reference to blood, as the one with bloodlust. She also was seen as a special goddess for women, ruling over menstruation. Unable to be eliminated completely however, Bast became a lesser deity and even was marginalized as Bastet by the priests of Amun who added a second female ending to her name that may have implied a diminutive status, becoming seen as a domestic cat at times.
Sekhmet became identified in some later cults as a daughter of the new sun god, Ra, when his cult merged with and supplanted the worship of Horus (the son of Osiris and Isis, who was one of the oldest of Egyptian deities and gave birth daily to the sun). At that time many roles of deities were changed in the Egyptian myths. Some were changed further when the Greeks established a royal line of rulers that lasted for three hundred years and some of their historians tried to create parallels between deities in the two pantheons.
Her name suits her function and means, the (one who is) powerful. She also was given titles such as the (One) Before Whom Evil Trembles, the Mistress of Dread, and the Lady of Slaughter.
Sekhmet was believed to protect the pharaoh in battle, stalking the land, and destroying the pharaoh's enemies with arrows of fire. An early Egyptian sun deity also, her body was said to take on the bright glare of the midday sun, gaining her the title Lady of Flame. It was said that death and destruction were balm for her warrior's heart and that the hot desert winds were believed to be her breath.
n order to placate Sekhmet's wrath, her priestesses performed a ritual before a different statue of the goddess on each day of the year. This practice resulted in many images of the goddess being preserved. It is estimated that more than seven hundred statues of Sekhmet once stood in one funerary temple alone, that of Amenhotep III, on the west bank of the Nile.
Sekhmet also was seen as a bringer of disease as well as the provider of cures to such ills. The name "Sekhmet" literally became synonymous with physicians and surgeons during the Middle Kingdom. In antiquity, many members of Sekhmet's priesthood often were considered to be on the same level as physicians.
She was envisioned as a fierce lioness, and in art, was depicted as such, or as a woman with the head of a lioness, who was dressed in red, the colour of blood. Sometimes the dress she wears exhibits a rosetta pattern over each nipple, an ancient leonine motif, which can be traced to observation of the shoulder-knot hairs on lions. Tame lions were kept in temples dedicated to Sekhmet at Leontopolis.
To pacify Sekhmet, festivals were celebrated at the end of battle, so that the destruction would come to an end. During an annual festival held at the beginning of the year, a festival of intoxication, the Egyptians danced and played music to soothe the wildness of the goddess and drank great quantities of beer ritually to imitate the extreme drunkenness that stopped the wrath of the goddess - when she almost destroyed humankind. This may relate to averting excessive flooding during the inundation at the beginning of each year as well, when the Nile ran blood-red with the silt from upstream and Sekhmet had to swallow the overflow to save humankind.
In 2006, Betsy Bryan, an archaeologist with Johns Hopkins University excavating at the temple of Mut presented her findings about the festival that included illustrations of the priestesses being served to excess and its adverse effects being ministered to by temple attendants.
Participation in the festival was great, including the priestesses and the population. Historical records of tens of thousands attending the festival exist. These findings were made in the temple of Mut because when Thebes rose to greater prominence, Mut absorbed the warrior goddesses as some of her aspects. First, Mut became Mut-Wadjet-Bast, then Mut-Sekhmet-Bast (Wadjet having merged into Bast), then Mut also assimilated Menhit, another lioness goddess, and her adopted son's wife, becoming Mut-Sekhmet-Bast-Menhit, and finally becoming Mut-Nekhbet. These temple excavations at Luxor discovered a "porch of drunkenness" built onto the temple by the queen Hatshepsut, during the height of her twenty year reign.
In a later myth developed around an annual drunken Sekhmet festival, Ra, by then the sun god of Upper Egypt, created her from a fiery eye gained from his mother, to destroy mortals who conspired against him (Lower Egypt). In the myth, Sekhmet's blood-lust was not quelled at the end of battle and led to her destroying almost all of humanity, so Ra tricked her by turning the Nile red like blood (the Nile turns red every year when filled with silt during inundation) so that Sekhmet would drink it. However, the red liquid was not blood, but beer mixed with pomegranate juice so that it resembled blood, making her so drunk that she gave up slaughter and became an aspect of the gentle Hathor.
After Sekhmet's worship moved to Memphis, as Horus and Ra had been identified as one another under the name Ra-Herakhty - when the two religious systems were merged and Ra became seen as a form of Atum, known as Atum-Ra - so Sekhmet, as a form of Hathor, was seen as Atum's mother as Hathor had been the mother of the sun, giving birth anew to it every day. She then was seen as the mother of Nefertum, the youthful form of Atum who emerged in later myths, and so was said to have Ptah, Nefertum's father, as a husband when most of the goddesses acquired counterparts as paired deities.
Although Sekhmet again became identified as an aspect of Hathor, over time both evolved back into separate deities because the characters of the two goddesses were so vastly different. Later, as noted above, the creation goddess Mut, the great mother, gradually became absorbed into the identities of the patron goddesses, merging with Sekhmet, and also sometimes with Bast.
Sekhmet later was considered to be the mother of Maahes, a deity who appeared during the New Kingdom
period. He was seen as a lion prince, the son of the goddess. The late origin of Maahes in the Egyptian pantheon may be the incorporation of a Nubian deity of
ancient origin in that culture, arriving during trade and warfare or even during a period of domination by Nubia. During the Greek occupation of Egypt, note
was made of a temple for Maahes that was an auxiliary facility to a large temple to Sekhmet at Taremu in the delta region (likely a temple for Bast
originally), a city which the Greeks called Leontopolis, where by that time, an enclosure was provided to house lions.
Sekhmet (Sakhmet) is one of the oldest known Egyptian deities. Her name is derived from the Egyptian word "Sekhem" (which means "power" or "might") and is often translated as the "Powerful One". She is depicted as a lion-headed woman, sometimes with the addition of a sun disc on her head. Her seated statues show her holding the ankh of life, but when she is shown striding or standing she usually holds a sceptre formed from papyrus (the symbol of northern or Lower Egypt) suggesting that she was associated primarily with the north. However, some scholars argue that the deity was introduced from Sudan (south of Egypt) where lions are more plentiful.
Sekhmet was represented by the searing heat of the mid-day sun (in this aspect she was sometimes called "Nesert", the flame) and was a terrifying goddess. However, for her friends she could avert plague and cure disease. She was the patron of Physicians, and Healers and her priests became known as skilled doctors. As a result, the fearsome deity sometimes called the "lady of terror" was also known as "lady of life". Sekhmet was mentioned a number of times in the spells of The Book of the Dead as both a creative and destructive force, but above all, she is the protector of Ma´at (balance or justice) named "The One Who Loves Ma´at and Who Detests Evil".
She was often closely associated with Hathor (the goddess of joy, music, dance, sexual love, pregnancy and birth). In this partnership, she was seen as the harsh aspect of the friendly Hathor. A temple was constructed by Amenemhet II to Sekhmet-Hathor at Kom el- Hisn (Imau in the western Delta) in which she and Hathor are referred to as the "Mistress of Imau". Imau was situated near a branch of the Nile that has since shifted eastwards, but in ancient times the town was right on the edge of the desert on the route to the Libyan frontier. Clearly it was hoped that Sekhmet would protect the border.
Sekhmet´s main cult centre was in Memphis (Men Nefer) where she was worshipped as "the
destroyer" alongside her consort Ptah (the creator) and Nefertum (the healer).
She was also known as the "Lady of Pestilence" and the "Red Lady" (indicating her alignment with the desert) and it was thought that she could send plagues against those who angered her. When the centre of power shifted from Memphis to Thebes during the New Kingdom the Theban Triad (Amun, Mut, and Khonsu), Sekhmet´s attributes were absorbed into that of Mut (who sometimes took the form of a lion).
She was associated with the goddesses given the title "Eye of Ra". According to myth, Ra became angry because mankind was not following his laws and preserving Ma'at (justice or balance). He decided to punish mankind by sending an aspect of his daughter, the "Eye of Ra". He plucked Hathor from Ureas on his brow, and sent her to earth in the form of a lion. She became Sekhmet, the "Eye of Ra" and began her rampage. The fields ran with human blood. However, Ra was not a cruel deity, and the sight of the carnage caused him to repent. He ordered her to stop, but she was in a blood lust and would not listen. So Ra poured 7,000 jugs of beer and pomegranate juice (which stained the beer blood red) in her path. She gorged on the "blood" and became so drunk she slept for three days. When she awoke, her blood lust had dissipated, and humanity was saved. In one version of the myth, Ptah is the first thing she sees on awaking and she instantly fell in love with him. Their union (creation and destruction) created Nefertum (healing) and so re-established Ma'at.
The saving of mankind was commemorated every year on the feast day of Hathor/Sekhmet. Everyone drank beer stained with pomegranate juice and worshipped "the Mistress and lady of the tomb, gracious one, destroyer of rebellion, mighty one of enchantments". A statue of Sekhmet was dressed in red facing west, while Bast was dressed in green and faced east. Bast was sometimes considered to be Sekhmet´s counterpart (or twin depending on the legend), and in the festival of Hathor they embodied the duality central to Egyptian mythology. Sekhmet represented Upper Egypt while Bast represented Lower Egypt.
Ptah (Pteh, Peteh) was one of the triad of Memphis along with Sekhmet (or Bast) and Nefertum. When Memphis became the capital of Egypt, Ptah became the ultimate creator who made everything including the gods of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis and the Ennead of Heliopolis and was given the epithet "He who set all the gods in their places and gave all things the breath of life". Ptah was worshipped throughout all of Egypt, but his primary cult centres were in Memphis and Heliopolis. He was so popular in Egypt that it is said that the name "Egypt" itself derives from a Greek spelling of the name of a temple in Memphis; "Hwt-kA-ptH", which means "the temple of the Ka of Ptah".
He is often described as an abstract form of the "Self-Created One", who made the universe either by the wish of his heart (sometimes associated with Hathor or Horus) and by his tongue (or speech, identified with Thoth and Tefnut). Alternatively, you could argue that he was more directly in control of creation than either Ra or Atum). He was the patron of sculptors, painters, builders and carpenters, and other craftsmen and was thought to have invented masonry. In fact, he may have formed the template for the idea of god as the great architect which is so popular in Masonic mythology and some branches of Christian theology, or as the Book of the Dead puts it, "a master architect, and framer of everything in the universe". However, it is also worthy of note that some versions of the legend stated that Ptah created the heavens and the earth while Khnum fashioned the people and animals on his potter´s wheel, although it is still implied that Ptah created Khnum.
He was also a god of rebirth who was sometimes credited with creating Opening of the Mouth ceremony which restored life to the deceased (although it is also associated with Anubis and Wepwaet). He was also the patron of the second month of the Egyptian calendar, called Paopi by the Greeks.
Ptah was a great protector of Egypt. According to myth, he saved the town of Pelusium from the Assyrian invaders. He ordered all of the vermin in the fields to chew through the bowstrings and shield handles of the enemy, destroying their weapons and sending them home in a panic. The Shabaka stone records that Ptah helped settle the fight between Horus and Set by making Set the lord of Upper Egypt while Geb made Horus the lord of Lower Egypt. Thus he was instrumental in maintaining the duality of Upper and Lower Egypt.
The Apis bull was regarded as the "Ba" (one of the parts of the soul) of Ptah. However, in later times, the Apis was associated with him only while it was living and associated with Osiris after death. Herodotus wrote that the Apis bull was conceived from a bolt of lightning, it was black with a while diamond on his forehead, the image of a vulture on his back, double hairs on his tail and a scarab mark under his tongue.
In Memphis he was thought to be married to Bast or Sekhmet. However, he was also described as the husband of Wadjet and numerous smaller local deities. He was the father of Nefertum and Maahes ( by either Bast or Sekhmet). He also adopted Imhotep (the deified architect of Djoser´s Step Pyramid as his son. He was linked to Ta-tenen (meaning "risen land) or Tanen (meaning "submerged land"), an earth god connected with the primeval mound from which creation sprang. In this form he was sometimes associated with Nepthys in representing Lower Egypt. He merged with Sokar (a god of the necropolis) as Ptah-Sokar, the personification of the sun during the night. Ptah-Sokar was associated with Osiris as Ptah-Sokar-Osiris. He was also linked to Min, the fertility god.
He was depicted as a mummified man with unbound arms holding a staff incorporating the ankh (representing life), the was (representing power) and the djed (representing stability). He usually stands on a plinth which was also one of the hieroglyphic symbols used to write the name of Ma´at (who represented order or justice) and was the same shape as a tool used by stonemasons and architects to form a straight edge. When he is depicted as Ptah-Sokar-Osiris he wears a sun disk with twisted rams horns and long plumes or the "atef crown". Statues of him in this form often included a copy of spells from The Book of the Dead. The origin of Ptah´s name is unclear, but it is often suggested that the correct translation is either "opener" (because of his link with the ceremony of the Opening of the Mouth) or "sculptor" (because he was a god of craftsmen and creation).
Ptah fashioned the universe through harmonics and thought. He helped the dead on their travels through the afterlife allowing them to transform into his divine figure. He allowed the dead to be like the living after death with the Opening of the Mouth ceremony. The Apis bull was his sacred animal, more of a representation of his soul on earth who gave fertility and rebirth to the people.
The bull's main sanctuary was near the temple of Ptah in Mennefer, near the bull's embalming house where he became linked to Osiris after death. Herodotus wrote that the Apis bull was conceived from a bolt of lightning, it was black with a while diamond on his forehead, the image of a vulture on his back, double hairs on his tail and a scarab mark under his tongue. The lightning was thought by the Egyptians to be Ptah in the form of a celestial fire, who mated with a heifer. With a creation god as his father, the bull was believed to be a fertility symbol. The heifer that produced the bull was venerated as a form of the goddess Isis. There was only one Apis bull at a time, and the cult of the Apis bull started at the beginning of Egyptian history. While alive, the bull was known as the 'Spokesman' of Ptah and his 'Glorious Soul'.
Ptah was worshipped throughout all of Egypt, his cult centers were Memphis and Heliopolis.
In Egyptian mythology, Ptah (also spelt Peteh) was the deification of the primordial mound in the Ennead cosmogony, which was more literally referred to as Ta-tenen (also spelled Tathenen), meaning risen land, or as Tanen, meaning submerged land.
It was said in the Shabaka Stone, that it was Ptah who called the world into being, having dreamt creation in his heart, and speaking it, his name meaning opener, in the sense of opener of the mouth. Indeed the opening of the mouth ceremony, performed by priests at funerals to release souls from their corpses, was said to have been created by Ptah. Atum was said to have been created by Ptah to rule over the creation, sitting upon the primordial mound.
In Memphis, Ptah was worshipped in his own right, and was seen as Atum's father, or rather, the father of Nefertum, the younger form of Atum. When the beliefs about the Ennead and Ogdoad were later merged, and Atum was identified as Ra (Atum-Ra), himself seen as Horus (Ra-Herakhty), this led to Ptah being said to be married to Sekhmet, at the time considered the earlier form of Hathor, Horus', thus Atum's, mother.
Since Ptah had called creation into being, he was considered the god of craftsmen, and in particular stone-based
crafts. Eventually, due to the connection of these things to tombs, and that at Thebes, the craftsmen regarded him so highly as to say that he controlled their
destiny. Consequently, first amongst the craftsmen, then the population as a whole, Ptah also became a god of reincarnation. Since Seker was also god of
craftsmen, and of reincarnation, Seker was later assimilated with Ptah becoming Ptah-Seker.
Ptah-Seker gradually became seen as the personification of the sun during the night, since the sun appears to be reincarnated at this time, and Ptah was the primordial mound, which lay beneath the earth. Consequently, Ptah-Seker became considered an underworld deity, and eventually, by the Middle Kingdom, become assimilated by Osiris, the lord of the underworld, occasionally being known as Ptah-Seker-Osiris.
The origin of Ptah's name is unclear, though some believe it to mean 'opener' or 'sculptor'. As a god of craftsmen, the later is probably correct. He was a patron of the arts, protector of stonecutters, sculptors, blacksmiths, architects, boat builders, artists and craftsmen. His high priest was given the title 'Great Leader of Craftsmen', and his priests were probably linked to the different crafts.
Ptah's importance may be discerned when one learns that "Egypt" is a Greek corruption of the phrase
"Het-Ka-Ptah," or "House of the Spirit of Ptah."
In art, he is portrayed as a bearded mummified man, often wearing a skull cap, with his hands holding an ankh, was, and djed,, the symbols of life, power and stability, respectively. It was also considered that Ptah manifested himself in the Apis bull.
In the Memphite theology, Ptah is the primal creator, the first of all the gods, creator of the world and all that is in it. He is the artificer, the creator god, according to the priests of Memphis, the ancient capitol of Egypt. Ptah is not created, but simply is.
The Egyptians believed that Ptah was a god who created everything from artifacts to the world egg to the other
deities themselves. The Opening of the Mouth ceremony was believed to have been devised by him.
When an ancient Egyptian died, he was not buried into the ground, mourned and then forgotten. Nor was his grave simply visited at certain times and some token words spoken over it, so that once again he is forgotten until next visit. The ancient Egyptians believed that ritual existed which would bring sensory life back to the deceased¹s form, enabling it to see, smell, breathe, hear, and eat, and thus partake of the offering foods and drinks brought to the tomb each day.
Priests would recite hymns such as this one, for Pa-nefer:
Once the deceased was rejuvenated back with all his senses, he could also interact and watch over the family members, affecting their lives. Letters have been found attesting to the continued contact, or at least, belief in the continued contact, between deceased and living. Letters such as this one, from the scribe Butehamun to his deceased wife Ikhtay, where he asks her to intercede with the Lords of Eternity on his behalf. "If you can hear me in the place where you are ... it is you who will speak with a good speech in the necropolis. Indeed I did not commit an abomination against you while you were on earth, and I hold to my behavior."
The Opening of the Mouth ceremony was an important ritual in both funerary and temple practice. It originated as a ritual to endow statues with the capacity to support the living ka, and to receive offerings. It was performed on cult statues of gods, kings, and private individuals, as well as on the mummies of both humans and Apis bulls. It was even performed on the individual rooms of temples and on the entire temple structure.
The effect of the ritual was to animate the recipient (or, in the case of a deceased individual, to re-animate it). The ritual allowed the mummy, statue, or temple, to eat, breathe, see, hear and enjoy the offerings and provisions performed by the priests and officiants, thus to sustain the ka or soul spark - spirit.
The earliest Old Kingdom textual references to the ceremony date to the early 4th dynasty, to the Palermo Stone and the decoration of the tomb of the royal official Metjen. At this time, the ritual seems to have been performed solely to animate statues, rather than to re-animate the deceased.
Ptah was married to either Bast, Sekhmet or Wadjet. His union with Bast was thought to have produced a lion-headed god called Mihos, while Nefertem was his son by either Sekhmet or Wadjet. Different towns believed that Ptah was married to their goddess, and thus the confusion with his family ties. Mennefer had a triad consisting of Ptah, Sekhmet and Nefertem.
The architect of the Saqqara Step Pyramid, Imhotep, after he became deified, came to be regarded as the son of Ptah. As father and creator of the gods, the deities he created first were Nun and Naunet and the nine gods of the Ennead. The nine were Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys who were considered to be both the teeth and lips of the mouth of Ptah and the semen and the hands of Tem.
He was linked to two other Mennefer gods - Ta-tenen and Sokar. Ta-tenen (known as Ptah-Ta-tenen
when the two were combined) was an earth god connected with the primeval mound as it rose from the waters of Nun while Sokar was a god of the necropolis. This
reinforced Ptah's aspects of a god of creation and a god of the dead. Ptah-Sokar was also connected with Osiris, and known as Ptah-Sokar-Osiris. Statues of
the three-in-one god showed a mummiform man wearing the sun disk, corkscrew ram horns and long plumes or the atef crown. These statues often contained a copy
of spells from The Book of the Dead.
Lord of the Sunrise
In Egyptian mythology, Nefertem (also Nefertum, Nefer-Tem, Nefer-Temu) was originally just the young Atum (his name means beautiful Atum, i.e. youthful Atum), at the creation of the world, who had arisen from the primal waters, in the Ennead cosmogeny.
Since Atum was a solar deity, Nefertum represented sunrise, and since Atum had arisen from the primal waters in the bud of an Egyptian blue water-lily, Nymphaea caerulea, Nefertum was associated with this flower. (This flower is widely used in Egyptian art, religion and literature. In much of the literature about ancient Egypt, it is called the "(blue) lotus".
However, the true lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, is not found in Egypt until the time of the Persian invasion, when it was introduced as a food crop.) Later, as time wore on, Atum became assimilated into Ra (as Atum-Ra), and so it came to be that people regarded Nefertum as a separate deity.
Some of the titles of Nefertem were "He Who is Beautiful" and "Water-Lily of the Sun", and a version of the Book of the Dead says, "Rise like Nefertem from the blue water lily, to the nostrils of Ra, and come forth upon the horizon each day."
As the power of Memphis grew, their chief god, Ptah, was said to be the original creator, and thus of all the other gods, including any lesser creators, who create the remaining gods having first being created by Ptah. Consequently, the creator aspect of Atum-Ra, namely Nefertum, came to be merely the son of Ptah, rather than the creator proper.
As son of Ptah, it was said that either Sekhmet, or Bast (whichever was considered wife of Ptah), was his mother.
As a god now only associated with the highly aromatic blue water-lily rather than creation, he became a god of perfume and luck.
In art, Nefertum is usually depicted as a beautiful young man having blue water-lily flowers around his head. As the son of Bast, he also sometimes has the head of a lion or is a lion or cat reclining.
Nefertem was associated both with the scent of the blue water-lily flower and its supposed
narcotic effect (widely presumed, but yet untested scientifically). The ancient Egyptians often carried small statuettes of him as good-luck charms.
Nefertum (Nefertem, Nefertemu) was originally considered to be an aspect of Atum. According to one version of the creation story of the Ennead in Heliopolis, Nefertum (translated as beautiful Atum, or perfect Atum) was born from a blue lotus bud which emerged from the waters of Nun at the beginning of creation. Atum represented the sun and so Nefertum represented the sunrise. He cried because he was alone and his tears created humanity. It was thought that he was born with every sunrise, matured into Atum during the day before passing into the world of the dead every sunset. The cycle of birth in the morning and death every evening (as the sun travelled through the underworld) represented the daily struggle between Chaos and Order (Ma´at).
When Atum was absorbed by Ra (Atum-Ra), Nefertum came to be considered as a seperate deity, still closely associated with the newborn sun. Then Ptah was promoted to the chief national god and proclaimed the ultimate creator, and Nefertum was described as his son by either Sekhmet or Bast(both "Daughters of Ra"). However, as the son of Ptah, he also became patron of the cosmetic and healing arts derived from flowers. Thus, Nefertem was seen as both an aspect of the sun god, and also his grandson.
He was most closely associated with the blue lotus, a flower with narcotic properties. According to one legend, he brought bouquet of beautiful lotuses to the aging Ra to ease his suffering. As a result, he was described in the Pyramid Texts as "the lotus blossom which is before the nose of Re". Nefertem was linked both to the pleasant scent of the lotus flower and to its medical properties (which were well known to the ancient Egyptians). He was also associated with a number of the egyptians favourite flowers, such as rose, geranium and cornflower. In fact, he could be described as the archetypal aromatherapist.
He was also linked to rebirth, both as a personification of the newborn sun and as the patron of many of the necessary ingredients of the mummification process. A passage of the Book of the Dead says the blessed dead will "Rise like Nefertem from the lotus, to the nostrils of Ra, and come forth upon the horizon each day".
Nefertum was usually depicted as a beautiful young man wearing a lotus headdress, sometimes standing on the back of a lion. He occasionally wears a headdress with two plumes and two necklace counterpoises which were symbols of fertility associated with Hathor (who in turn was closely associated with both of the goddesses described as his mother - Sekhmet and Bast). He was sometimes depicted as a man with the head of a lion or as a reclining lion or cat. In this form he was associated with the lion god Maahes who may have been his brother, but may also have been an aspect of Nefertum. As the newborn sun he was generally depicted as a beautiful baby sitting in or on a lotus bud.
He was known as "He Who is Beautiful" and "Water Lily of the Sun" and He was held in great affection, and people Egyptians often carried small statuettes of him as good-luck charms.