Min, whose cult centers were Chemmis in the Delta and Koptos, was a deity of predynastic origin whose fetish was a thunderbolt. In early times Min was considered to be a sky-god, a supreme being whose title was Chief of Heaven. Until well into the Middle Kingdom, he was identified with the falcon-god Horus the Elder. He was 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. As a
rain-god he personified the generative force in nature, especially the growth
immanent in grain. 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. 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 honour.
fertility associations, 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
Koptos, passing through dangerous tribal lands. He was also called Lord of
Foreign Lands and was the protector of nomads and hunters.
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 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.