Min, chiefly worshipped at Coptos
with cults centering in the former as well as Chemmis
in the Delta, was a deity of predynastic
origin whose ancient symbol
was the thunderbolt. In early times Min was considered to be a sky-god, a supreme being whose title was Chief of Heaven
. As a rain-god he personified the generative force in nature, especially the growth imminent in grain. It was believed that it was his seed that fell from the heavens as rain, to nourish the plantlife, and thusly all of mankind, below. Until well into the Middle Kingdom
, he was identified with the falcon-god Horus
the Elder, often called the son of Ra
, or of Shu
Min was above all a god of fertility, worshipped by men as a bestower of sexual powers. Many temples, works of art, and tales depict Min in a constant state of sexual arousal. He is often shown holding his erect phallus in his left hand. Because of this, the ancient Greeks had identified him with Pan. A rather loose association, really, as Min is a proud, regal figure.
In representations of one of the important Min festivals, the Pharaoh was shown hoeing the ground and watering the fields while Min looked on. At the Min festival held at the beginning of the harvest season, the Pharaoh was seen ceremonially reaping the grain and offering the first sheaf of wheat to Min.
In the Middle Kingdom, Min was identified with Horus son of Osiris through this connection with the Pharaoh as source of abundance. When he begot his heir (ritually at the same festival) the Pharaoh was again identified with Min. As Pharaohs were also said to be the sons of Ra, Min came to be identified with the sun-god; and in the New Kingdom he was still more closely linked with Amon-Ra. At this period Min became a very popular deity and orgiastic festivals were held in his honor.
Coptos became an important entrepot for desert trading expeditions and despite his fertility associations, Min became the god of roads and travellers. Min was well-known as Lord of the Eastern Desert, for he was the tutelary deity of the caravan routes to the Red Sea which departed from Coptos, passing through dangerous tribal lands. He was also called Lord of Foreign Lands and was the protector of nomads and hunters.
Min was represented as an ithyphallic bearded man, usually a statue with legs close together in the archaic fashion, painted black. He wore the same headdress as Amon, two tall feathers, and held one arm raised to brandish a scourge, a flail, or a thunderbolt. In the New Kingdom he was shown presiding over the harvest festival in the form of his sacred animal, a white bull, which was often fed his special plant, the lettuce, believed to have aphrodisiac properties.
Lettuce was sacred to the god Min in ancient Egypt, commonly placed in tombs in offering to Him. This plant was deemed special above all else due of its greenness (the color long associated with fecundity, harvest, and crops) and milky sap (produced when the core is squeezed), which was likened to semen. As such, lettuce was naturally related to the act of procreation and fertility.
- A Kitchen Witches' Guide to Vegetables. "Kitchen Witchery". www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/4536/WiseWomansCottage/kwveggies.html. Accessed: 22 December 2001.
- Senemut's Web Pages About Acient Egyptian Temples. "WELCOME to my web pages about Ancient Egypt temples". http://members.tripod.com/Senenmut/. Accessed: 22 December 2001.