Metaphors of Movement Esoteric Study Group

Geb – Laid Back Dude and Father Christmas

Geb was the name of the earth god in ancient Egyptian mythology. He married his twin sister Nut, who was the goddess of the sky.

Their children included Nephthys (the goddess of death & decay), Isis (goddess of healing), Horus, Seth, and Osiris (god of life & death). To confuse everyone, Osiris also had a son named Horus as well. That Horus and his uncle Seth (Set, Darkness/Night) got into a fight over which one of them would rule Egypt. It was eventually decided by Geb that Horus become the leader of the living.

Nut (Nuit, sky) is the overarching figure, Geb (the earth) reclines beneath. Separating them is Shu (the air). note the positions of Shu’s hands. Shu is attended by the ram-headed Heh deities. Nut is sometimes depicted as a cow.

When earthquakes took place in ancient Egypt, the people believed it was a sign of Geb laughing. After all, he was the god of the earth, so it only makes sense that an earthquake would have been caused by him.

It is not uncommon to see Geb depicted with a rather large erection for Nut.

Despite the name “Geb” meaning “the weak one,” he is often looked at as the ruler of all Egyptian gods. Geb is credited for giving the sun god protection when he travelled on the famous sun ship. More importantly, Geb helped guide the dead people’s souls in the afterlife and supplied them with beverages and meat.

When people were sick, just the very mention of his name had the power to heal them. These were people suffering from illnesses caused by things of nature, such as cold, flu, scorpion stings, spider bites, and so on. As the earth god, Geb had the power to do virtually anything on earth to help people. But was he totally a nice god that wanted to help people?

But Geb seems to have mixed feelings about people. Not only did his laughter create earthquakes which harmed and killed people, but he also was responsible for making Egypt’s harsh desert environments. In the entire ancient world, it seemed as if the deserts of Egypt separated the region from everywhere else. On the upside, Geb did create the Nile River and surrounded it with very fertile lands. These lands were enough to harvest a vast number of crops to feed people and livestock.

The depictions of Geb show him as a man with dark green skin. This is supposed to represent how he is responsible for vegetation growth next to the Nile River. He also wore a crown on his head and has leaves spread across his skin. Geb is easily recognizable in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

He also has a goose on his head. A goose.

Seb is the Egyptian name for a certain species of goose. The goose is an allusion to the idea that he made the primaeval egg from which the world came into being. A migratory bird, they kept appearing in Egypt every year, apparently just coming from nowhere, symbolic of new life and new beginnings.

“He cackled, being the Great Cackler, in the place where he was created, he alone. He began to speak in the midst of silence. He opened all eyes and made them see. (…) His cry spread about when there was no one else in existence but him. He brought forth all things which exist. He caused them to live. He made all men understand the way to go and their hearts came alive when they saw him.”

The Egyptian Book of The Dead

It’s worth comparing this to the European “Green Man” – one of the most pervasive images in Christendom that is found on most old churches. The Green Man later morphed into the traditional image of “Father Christmas” (not Santa Claus, this is a different manifestation of the same deity).  Not in this vintage Christmas card the depiction of Santa with the mistletoe and leaves. (note: Father Christmas is green, Santa is red. Santa is derived from Father Christmas, like the red berries are derived from the mistletoe. There is only one Father Christmas, but an endless supply of Santas.)

Father Christmas (less so Santa) has a strong association with the Robin, a traditional symbol of luck, renewal and new beginnings.

Folk Singer and renowned expert on the Green Man, Mike Harding, presents a short documentary on The Green Man.

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