Day and nighttime forms of the sky goddess, Nut, from the ceiling of Ramesses VI’s tomb. Nut was a mother goddess, giving birth to the sun each morning while swallowing the stars, swallowing the sun each evening while giving birth to the moon and stars. She was also the mother of Osiris, according to Heliopolitan theology.

Photo: Daniel Nadler

Books of Day and Night, Tomb of Ramesses VI

The Books of Day and Night narrate the journey of the sun. The Book of Night is similar to the Amduat, Book of Gates, and Book of Caverns because each book is about the sun’s journey at night. The Book of Day, however, is unique in that it is the only book that tells of the sun’s journey during the day. The Book of Day is represented twice on the ceilings of the tomb of Ramesses VI, and it is only in this tomb where a complete version can be found. In this version of the sun’s journey, the sun is reborn every morning from the goddess Nut, then travels across the sky to be swallowed by Nut in the evening. During the night hours, the sun travels through Nut’s body and is reborn again each morning. 

The virginity of Horus’s mother, Isis, has been disputed, because in one myth she is portrayed as impregnating herself with Osiris’s severed phallus. In depictions of Isis’s impregnation, the goddess conceives Horus “while she fluttered in the form of a hawk over the corpse of her dead husband.” In an image from the tomb of Ramesses VI, Horus is born out of Osiris’s corpse without Isis even being in the picture. In another tradition, Horus is conceived when the water of the Nile—identified as Osiris—overflows the river’s banks, which are equated with Isis. The “phallus” in this latter case is the “sharp star Sothis” or Sirius, the rising of which signaled the Nile flood.