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Amongst the group who believed in the Ennead, a form of Egyptian mythology centred in Heliopolis, Geb (also spelt Seb, and Keb) was the personification of the earth, and indeed this is what his name means - earth, and thus it was said that when he laughed, it caused earthquakes. Since the egyptians held that their underworld was literally that, under the earth, Geb was sometimes seen as containing the dead, or imprisoning those not worthy to go to Aaru.     

In the Ennead, he is the husband of Nuit, the sky, the son of the primordial elements Tefnut (moisture) and Shu (dryness), and the father to the four lesser gods of the system - Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. In this context, Geb was said to have originally been engaged in eternal sex with Nuit, and had to be separated from her by Tefnut. Consequently, in early depictions he was shown reclining, with his phallus pointed towards Nuit.

     As time progressed, the glyph used in his name became more associated with the habitable land of egypt, and so thus vegetation. Likewise, since it was used as his name, he too became associated with vegetation, with barley being said to grow upon his ribs, and was depicted with plants and other green patches on his body. Gradually, vegetation began to be thought of as something that ought to be fat, and plump, and so the hieroglyph was used in these words too.

Because of this association with fatness, and vegetation, and so forth, the individual glyph became used as the word for goose. Indeed, the accession of a new pharaoh was announced by releasing four wild geese, to the four corners of the sky, to bless his reign with prosperity. This lead to Geb's name also taking the meaning goose, and so, it was for this reason that Geb became called the Great Cackler, and subsequently represented as a black goose, where black represented the fertile soil. When the Ennead and Ogdoad later merged, it was thus Geb who was considered the goose who laid the egg from which Ra emerged.

His association with vegetation, and sometimes with the underworld, also brought him the occasional interpretation that he was the wife of Renenutet, a minor goddess of the harvest, who was the mother of Nehebkau, a god associated with the underworld, who was on the same occasions said to be his son by her.

The Hymn of Geb says:

Behold, I rejoice on my standard, on my seat.
I am the creator of darkness,
making his place in the limits of the sky,
the ruler of infinity.
I rejoice in the lord of the palace.
My nest is unseen; I have broken the egg.
I am the lord of millions of years.
I have made my nest in the limits of the sky,
and descended to the earth as the Goose,
who drives out all sins.


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