Ra is a primeval cosmic god, the progenitor of the elements of the universe. He was the ancient Egyptian god of the sun, order, kings, and the sky. Ra was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the Earth, and the underworld.
At first, there was nothing, darkness and chaos reigned supreme – known as the waters of Nun.
From Nun sprang Ra, the first of the gods, the creator of the gods and all that is. He is the one from which all other things came to be. Ra was all alone in the world. He named Shu and the wind started to blow. Afterward, he called out Tefnut and it started to rain. (In another version he coughed and out came Shu and then he sneezed and out came Tefnut.)
Shu is a male god who is paired with his sister, Tefnut. Together they represent two fundamental principles of human existence. Shu symbolizes air, wind, and the force of preservation. Tefnut symbolizes moisture, dew, and rain and that which brings about change, creating the concept of time.
Shu and Tefnut had two children, Geb – the earth and Nut – the sky. Nut. Geb and Nut together formed the permanent boundary between the primeval waters and the newly created world. They loved each other so much that they were always together.
Ra was angry because they embraced so tightly that nothing could come between them. Ra ordered Shu to come between them, ending their perpetual embrace, and he became the air that separates the sky from the earth.
Geb was so devastated by their separation that the tears he cried became the oceans and rivers on the earth.
The order of separation however came too late because Nut was pregnant. This angered Ra because he felt his order was not obeyed and decreed that Nut could not bear children on any day of the calendar.
Devastated, Nut went for help to Thoth, the great god of wisdom and magic and learning. Thoth knew that the curse of Ra, once spoken, could never be recalled, but in his wisdom, he knew there was an alternative.
He went to Khonsu, the moon god, and challenged him to a game of Senet. Game after game they played and always Thoth won. The stakes grew higher and higher, but Khonsu wagered the most, for it was some of his own light that he risked and lost.
At last, Khonsu would play no more. Then Thoth gathered up the light which he had won and made it into five extra days which forever after were set between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. The year was three hundred and sixty days long before this, but the five days were added to the end so that Nut was finally able to give birth to her children.
On the first of these days Osiris, the eldest son of Nut, was born, and the second day was set aside to be the birthday of Horus the Elder. On the third day the second son of Nut was born, dark Seth, the lord of evil. On the fourth her daughter Isis first saw the light and her second daughter Nephthys on the fifth. In this way, the curse of Ra was both fulfilled and defeated: for the days on which the children of Nut were born belonged to no year.