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Shu - The God of Air
by Frater S.B.

A Brief History:

     The name Shu means "he who rises up". As the god of air and a god of light, or of light personified, Shu was said to make himself manifest in the beams of the Sun by day and in the light of the Moon by night. He appears as rising up from behind the earth while supporting the sun with his hands similar to the way Atlas can be seen supporting the heavens on his shoulders. Shu is the son of Atum-Ra, the husband of the goddess Tefnut and father of Nuit and Geb. It is said that Shu was created by Ra by way of masturbation. "I had union with my hand, and I embraced my shadow as a wife. I poured seed into my own mouth and I sent forth from myself issue in the form of the gods Shu and Tefnut." Egyptian Story of Creation.

   Shu is the god of the wind, the atmosphere, the space between the heavens and the earth. As Lord of the atmosphere it is his duty to separate his children. Shu can be seen supporting the sky goddess and daughter Nuit above his head while his son and earth god Geb resides below his feet. It has been said that if Shu were to ever be removed from his place, chaos would come to the universe and all life would cease.

Shu's Role in Egypt:

     It is stated that after Ra, Shu was Egypt’s second Divine Ruler. He was a part of the great Ennead of Gods. After battling and defeating the god Apep and having most of his followers turn away from him Shu left the throne leaving his son Geb in command. As a god of the wind the Egyptians would often invoke Shu to give good winds to their sails. He was also considered to be the personification of the northern winds which were a source of life for the Egyptians. To the Egyptians he was the breath of life, the bridge between life and death for breath is the sign of life and without breath there can be no life. His bones were thought to be the clouds and with the help of a giant ladder he was said to hold, he would raise the spirits of the dead to what was called the 'Light Land' by the Egyptians. As the bridge between life and death Shu was also considered to be both a protector and punisher of souls in the afterlife. As a punisher of the souls of the dead Shu would oversee the elimination of those souls who were found unworthy of an afterlife. Those who were deemed worthy would then climb the ladder of Shu and enter on into the 'Light Land'. Shu was a god related to living and allowed life to flourish in Egypt. He was the division between day and night, the world of the dead and that of the living. The Egyptians believed that without Shu there could be no life, and that Egypt existed because of Shu.

     "I am Shu, I draw Air from the presence of the Light-God. From the uttermost limits of heaven, from the uttermost limits on Earth and from the uttermost limits of the pinion of the Nebeh bird. May air be given unto this young divine Babe. My mouth is open, I see with my eyes."
The Chapter of giving Air in Khert-Neter-The Egyptian Book of the Dead

In the Golden Dawn System:

     In the Golden Dawn tradition we are first introduced to the god Shu through the exchange between the Kerux and the Hegemon in the Theoricus Initiation : "The priest with the mask of the Ox spake and said, 'Thou cannot pass the Gate of the Northern Heaven unless thou can tell me my name!' 'Satem in the abode of Shu, the Bull of Earth is thy name; thou art Kephra the Sun at night.'" Theoricus Ceremony.

     With this in mind we can see that it is through the Abode of Shu, the Path of Tav on the Tree of Life, that we must pass in order to reach the higher planes of existence. Once given the secrets of the Theoricus grade sign we can use this sign to connect with the forces of Air. By imitating the god Shu we are in essence raising our minds above the earth and placing it into the higher realms of splendor above. This fits very well in the context of advancing from the Grade of Zelator, the worker of Earth to the grade of Theoricus, the worker of Air.

     Shu Can also be found in Enochian Chess as a Bishop of Air. He is titled with his Coptic name of Shu-Zoan and is depicted as the human-headed god with as ostrich feather on top his head personifying atmosphere. According to S.L MacGregor Mathers, "The Bishops are subtle and sharp, Airy in quality, moving rapidly, but easily arrested in their course. They clash not with opposing Bishops, and the friendly Airs support each other in attack and defense. Where the active Airs whirl the passives cannot come. They are the forces of the Princes, and of Yetzirah, the Son." As a represention of these airy qualities, Shu's place as a Bishop of Air fits perfectly.