The Ogdoad and the Ennead. What’s the Difference?

Two groups of deities, two paths of creation

  • Amun and Amaunet (invisibility)
  • Heh and Hauhet (infinity)
  • Kek and Kauket (darkness)
  • Querh- Querhet
  • Hehu — Hehut
  • Kekui- Kekuit
Relief in the temple of Hathor at Dendera showing the Ogdoad of Hermopolis.
Relief in the temple of Hathor at Dendera showing the Ogdoad of Hermopolis.
Relief in the temple of Hathor at Dendera showing the Ogdoad of Hermopolis.

… What’s an “Ennead”?

Ennead, a word derived from the Greek meaning nine, is just another group of Egyptian Deities with its own creation story. The number nine was a sacred number that could also stand for ‘all’ gods. This was because the Egyptians indicated plurals by using three, and nine was then the representation of the plural of plurals.

The Ennead
  1. Shu (the air)
  2. Tefnut (moisture)
  3. Geb (the earth)
  4. Nut (the sky)
  5. Osiris
  6. Isis
  7. Set
  8. Nephthys

Main differences between the Ogdoad and the Ennead:

  • The Ogdoad consisted of eight deities, while the Ennead was formed of nine deities.
  • The Ogdoads were worshiped at Hermopolis, while the Ennead was worshiped at Heliopolis.
  • We can find three versions of the creation story in the Ogdoad, while in the Ennead we find one central creation story.

Citations, sources and further reading:

  • Allen, James P. Genesis in Egypt: the Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts (Yale Egyptological Seminar: Yale University, 1988.
  • Faulkner, R. O. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1969.)
  • Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003) The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt
  • Watterson, Barbara (1996) Gods of Ancient Egypt
  • Morenz, Siegfried. Egyptian Religion. trans. By Ann E. Keep (Cornell University Press: New York, 1973.)

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