The Sacred Role Of Sex And Masturbation In Ancient Egypt

History The Sacred Role Of Sex And Masturbation In Ancient Egypt

Before there was anything, there was Atum, the creator God and main deity of the Egyptian pantheon, who existed by himself. He was surrounded by nothingness, so he decided to put an end to his long solitude and created the world and the rest of the Egyptian gods through masturbation. From his ejaculation emerged the first pair of twin gods, Shu (air god) and Tefnut (moisture goddess). Atum's semen was the origin of the world, and masturbation the act of creation.

This is the myth of creation according to Egyptian cosmogony. It was natural for the people that inhabited the lands by the Nile river to conceive sex as a meaningful act that went beyond reproduction and taboos, unlike societies influenced by Christian morality.

Ancient Egyptians were strongly convinced that their main source of livelihood had come from Atum's ejaculation, and it was their duty to keep it alive. Pharaohs would perform a ceremony to thank their main god, which involved masturbating at the riverbank and making sure that the semen followed the flow of the river's waters. This was seen as a good omen and a sign of the continuing life's cycle, fertility, and the universal order, which would also follow their own course.

Apart from being a source of procreation, sex and the pleasure it provides were also a natural source of recreation. Marriage was also the nuclear institution, but its focus was reproduction. There were no ceremonies or legal contracts for weddings. The couple was bound by a common agreement: a child's upbringing. Logically, the most acceptable reason for divorce would be infertility.

Monogamy was the common norm among Egyptian couples, but has no transcendental quality. Most couples would marry at a young age  –16 sixteen years old–, and sexual practices were diverse and not deemed as an illegitimate act to punish. The Pharaohs and ruling class resorted to incest and consanguinity to preserve the noble lineage and their power.  

All evidence of this remained undiscovered for centuries, until the highly moral Victorian society made of Egyptology a trend (what an irony). Through several expeditions and archaeological works, English explorers found much more than the customs of the civilization that ruled the world thousands of years ago.

A collection of handcrafted phallic pieces, engravings, and sculptures from the Mesopotamian and Egyptian culture were carefully kept locked away for several years. Now the collection is partially displayed to the public.

Want to know more about sexuality in ancient cultures? You can check out:
The Role Of Sex In The Origin Of The Universe According To Ancient Myths
Masturbation: The Sacred Ritual Of Pre-Columbian Cosmology

Translated by Andrea Valle