Shu is a primordial god of light and air who provided illumination between the land of the living and the dead, day and night. Being the god of air, he also gave the breath of life to all creation. Being the god of winds, he was invoked by sailors to speed their boats. The clouds which were considered to be his bones were used as a ladder for the deceased to climb up to heaven.
Shu was a part of the Ennead of Heliopolis in Lower Egypt. He was created from the god Atum whilst Atum was masturbating. There is an alternate myth which describes Atums’s wife Iusaaset, as being Shu’s mother. His wife was Tefnut, who was also his sister. Together, they were the parents of Geb, and Nut . Shu protected Ra as he travelled through the night sky or the underworld, from Apep, thus allowing Ra to rise every morning.
It has been posited that Shu originated in Nubia. The Egyptian and Nubian Kings sometimes depicted themselves as Shu to present themselves as the first born of the sun-god and hence divine rulers. Shu lent credibility to the Pharaoh‘s right to rule through this implication. Shu was also depicted as wearing a feather representative of the ‘breath of life. This could be a reference to a role of being a giver of life. Shu, for the most part, was seen as a protector. He also had the role of leading the demons in the Hall of Ma’at for those souls that were to be punished. Shu was also seen to be second only to Ra in the Ennead of Heliopolis. Shu, although not having a definite seat of power, was very popular throughout Egypt even during the Armana period. Apparently, Akhenaton saw Shu as the son of a solar god, perhaps a personification of the Aten, and traditionally as symbol of the pharaohs’ divinity.