Previously known as ATUM, he’s the most important Egyptian God. He created himself out of the mound formed by the OGDOAD’s primordial chaos, and then made SHU and TEFNUT to form the world. Now he sails across the sky in his solar boat.
Mankind was made from his tears and if that doesn’t make you grateful, just go to Egypt and look at the midday sun. There he is — that’s his all-powerful eye bearing down on you.
But is he all-powerful? There are times when he seems to be waning a bit and feeling his age.
He has a very strange relationship with the Sky Goddess NUT (who arches backwards across the world and probably symbolizes the Milky Way). In the evening he sails through her mouth and then has to battle through her nightmare insides.
Like some computer-devised video game, he wends his way through twelve gates at the rate of one per hour without getting zapped by malevolent hideous monsters. And like some end-of-game baddie, the snake God APEP lies in wait hoping to gobble him up. Once these perils are traversed, he surfaces via NUT’s birth canal to greet the new day.
He’s not alone in this enterprise — selected top Gods came along for the thrill of pitting their skills and chilling out in no uncertain manner. THOTH, MAAT, HATHOR, HORUS are the top crew, with ABTU and ANET as early warning system and KHEPRI the dung beetle as a sort of morning mascot.
The night boat is called Mantchet, and there’s also a day boat called Semketet, where they probably laze around sunbathing and drinking cocktails as they recount their night time adventures.
Shrouded in the mists of Chaos and speculation of cosmic genealogy, RA may or may not have had parents. NUT is often put forward as his mother, but is most likely due to his habit of popping out to be reborn after the night shift.
Later in life there were some amalgamations. RA was so much in the spotlight that many Gods tried to get in on the act by adding his name to theirs for added glory. The most notable of these was AMUN-RA.
RA himself seems to have opted for semi-retirement, although he remains very much in the public eye and has a full schedule of guest appearances.