Shu is an immortal being who came to be worshipped by the early civilizations of Africa aproximetly 10 thousand years ago. He is a member of the Ennead, the son of Atum Ra, the husband of the Goddess Tefnut, the father of Geb and Nut and the grandfather of Ausir, Auset, Nephthys and Set. He is considered to be the patron god of air (wind)
In Heliopolitan theology, Atum created the first couple of the Ennead, Shu and Tefnut by masturbating or by spitting.
Shu (Su) was the god of light and air and as such personified the wind and the earth’s atmosphere. As the god of light he represented the illumination of the primordial darkness and marked the separation between day and night and between the world of the living and the world of the dead. As the god of air, he represented the space between the earth and the heavens, and gave the breath of life to all living creatures. As a god of the wind, sailors invoked him to provide the good wind to power their boats. The clouds were considered to be his bones, and he supported the ladder by which the deceased souls could reach the heavens.
His children Geb and Nut were infatuated with each other, and remained locked in a perpetual embrace smothering the life between them. Shu intervened and held Nut (the sky) above him separating her from his son Geb (the earth). Thus Shu created the atmosphere which allowed life to flourish. Four pillars located at the cardinal points of the world helped Shu maintain the separation of earth and sky, and were known as the “Pillars of Shu”.
Although he embodied light, and so had a solar aspect, he was not strictly a solar deity. However, he was closely connected to the sun god, Ra (or Atum). He protected the sun god from the snake-demon Apep as he travelled through the underworld or the night sky, and brought the sun to life every morning. He was also the second divine pharaoh, ruling after Ra. However, Apep’s followers plotted his downfall and launched a vicious attack against the divine Pharaoh. Although Shu defeated Apep and his minions, he became gravely ill from the contact with the corrupt entities. Because of his weakened state Shu abdicated the throne leaving Geb to rule in his place. He returned to the skies to protect the sun and to wage his daily battle with Apep. Shu attended the judgement of each dead soul in the Halls of Ma´at (order or justice) and lead the terrifying demons who punished the souls deemed to be corrupt. He is also known as “He who Rises Up”. He was generally depicted as a man wearing a headdress composed of ostrich feathers carrying a Was sceptre (representing power) and an Ankh (representing the breath of life).. His skin was often painted black, possibly to represent his connection with Nubia or to emphasise his role in the rebirth of the sun god. He is commonly shown standing on the body of Geb with his arms raised to support Nut. When he is linked with his wife Tefnut, he often appears as a lion and the two were known as the “twin lion gods”.