From Encyclopedia Thelemica
Jump to navigationJump to search

Min (sometimes incorrectly transcribed as Chem) was a god and the patron of traveling caravans, in Egyptian mythology, known since the Predynastic Period, and even worshipped by the Scorpion King. Originally, Min was the constellation Orion, which as the most god-like constellation, put Min in charge of the sky, consequently in charge of thunder, and of rain, since they fell from the sky. Subsequently, Min was identified with Horus, who was also a God of the raised arm (a reference to the shape of Orion), and usually depicted as such.

This identification as Horus survived until the Middle Kingdom, when the two had begun to develop separate identities: Horus as a solar deity (since the sun crosses the sky), Min as a fertility deity (since rain makes the land fertile). In particular, the rendering of Orion that was Min, was one that chose to depict the 3 bright stars of Orion's belt as an erect phallus, contributing to this separation. With his many different aspects, Min was a popular god, but in later mythology was absorbed into the more significant (at the time) god Amun, since Amun was associated with the ram, viewed as a symbol of virility. This association with virility lead to Amun-Min gaining the epithet Kamutef, meaning Bull of his mother. As Amun-Min, he was often found depicted on the walls of Karnak.

Min was associated by the Greeks with their god Pan, a fertility god, whom the Greeks thought had invented masturbation, and thus they named Akhmim, his main cult centre, as Panopolis (meaning city of Pan). He was also associated strongly with the city of Coptos. In both locations he was worshipped in the form of a white bull (representing virility). Min was worshiped right through Egyptian predynastic times up to Roman times - a deity whose temples were built and rebuilt through Egypt's entire history.

As a god of male sexual potency, he was honoured during the coronation rites of the New Kingdom, when the Pharoah was expected to sow his seed --generally thought to have been plant seeds, although there have been controversial suggestions that the Pharoah was expected to demonstrate that he could ejaculate -- and thus ensure the annual flooding of the Nile, since the Pharoah was thought of as the manifestation of Ra (or more accurately, Atum-Ra). At the beginning of the harvest season, his image was taken out of the temple and brought to the fields in the festival of the departure of Min, when they blessed the harvest, and played games naked in his honour -- the most important of these being the climbing of a huge pole.

In Egyptian art, Min was depicted as wearing a crown with feathers, and holding his penis erect in his left hand (a masturbation|masturbatory reference to fertility), whilst holding a flail (referring to his authority, or rather that of the Pharoahs) in his upward facing, and bent, right hand (cf. the constellation of Orion). Around his forehead, Min wears a red ribbon that trails to the ground, claimed by some to represent sexual energy. The symbols of Min were the white bull, a barbed arrow, and a bed of lettuce, that the Egyptians believed to be an aphrodisiac, as Egyptian lettuce was tall, straight, and released a milk-like substance when rubbed -- characteristics superficially similar to the penis.

A few Egyptologists think there existed an Egyptian military ritual wherein prisoners were raped or sodomised, so as to ensure their subjugation. This ritual also allegedly appeared in the myth of the battle between Set and Horus, supposedly indicating that the rape may have been considered to confirm the subjugation of prisoners "legally" or "theologically". Even some war goddesses were depicted with the body of Min (including the phallus), and this also led to depictions, ostensibly of Min, with the head of a lioness.

Min was always depicted in an ithyphallic (with an erect and uncovered phallus) style, and thus Christians routinely defaced his monuments in temples they co-opted, and Victorian Egyptologists would take only waist-up photographs of Min, or otherwise find ways to cover his protruding manhood. However, to the ancient Egyptians, Min was not a matter of scandal - they had very relaxed standards of nudity: in their warm climate, dancing girls, serving women, and farmers often worked naked, and children did not wear any clothes until they came of age.

In the 19th century, there was an erroneous transcription of the Egyptian for Min as ḫm ("khem"), purely by coincidence. Since this Khem was worshipped most significantly in Akhmim, the separate identity of Khem was reinforced, Akhmim being understood as simply a corruption of Khem. However, Akhmim is a corruption of ḫm-mnw, meaning Shrine of Min, via the demotic form šmn. The existence of a god named Khem, was later understood as a faulty reading, but unfortunately it had already been enshrined in books written by E. A. Wallis Budge—now out of copyright and widely reprinted—, and so this error still finds a home among non-Egyptologists.

Nethertheless, since Khem (meaning black) was normally used to described the fertile soils by the Nile, it was sometimes used as an epithet for Min, as the god of fertility. Since Khem was also an Egyptian name for Egypt (precisely because it described the soil of the Nile valley), there is also an association with Ham, son of Noah|Ham]], who represented the forefather of the African nations including Egypt. Ham could plausibly be a name derived from Khem (Egypt), or vice versa, via sound change, due to the change in language between Egyptian and Hebrew, corresponding to the well known phonological change of /k/ into /kh/ into /x/ (voiceless velar fricative) into /h/.

Min may have been mentioned in the Torah in the Book of Isaiah 65:11. "But you are those who forsake the LORD, Who forget My holy mountain, Who prepare a table for Gad, And who furnish a drink offering for Meni." It is also of note that Meni has, in this case, also been translated as: 'God of Destiny' and 'God of Fate' or simply 'Destiny' or 'Fate'. According to Easton's Bible Dictionary: "Isaiah 65:11, marg. (A.V., "that number;" RSV, "destiny"), probably an idol which the captive Israelites worshipped after the example of the Babylonians. It may have been a symbol of destiny." More Commentary on Crosswalk. "Some take ... Meni, which we translate ... a number, to be the proper names of two of their idols, answering to Mercury." Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible.

There is a controversy concerning the fact that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism once identified a depiction of Min( including erect penis ) as 'God' of the Church of Latter Day Saints. This depiction was included in the Mormon text Pearl of Great Price.


  • Adapted from: Wikipedia. (2005). Min (god). Retrieved on July 8, 2005.

Document Source

  • This page was originally sourced from Thelemapedia. Retrieved May 2009.