Amen-Renef: The Indefinable

Amen-Renef : The Indefinable


The deeply religious Egyptians, recognizing that no human being can define the indefinable, believed in the presence of an unlimited and unknowable power that is too majestic to communicate with the created universe; but without this power, no creation can exist.

Outside the universe and its cyclical nature is what the Ancient Egyptians referred to as ‘Amen-Renef’, which is not a name of any entity, but a sentence that means That with Unknown Essence. In this realm of the unknowable, no words in terms of human thought could be spoken, and the deeply religious Egyptians never did, so they could only be conveyed by negation of all qualities. The Egyptians would say:

– Whose name is unknown to all neteru (gods, goddesses)
– Who has no definition, [i.e. cannot be defined/described in any human term]
– Who has no image.
– Who has no form.
– Who has no beginning and no end; etc., etc.

As such, the Ancient Egyptian expression Amen-Renef transcends even the quality of being. Amen-Renef is not the Creator or the First-Cause. All the terms: God, Creator, Master of the Universe, First Cause, The First, are lower principles and separate from Amen-Renef.

The Egyptians uttered no more of it—and then only under infinite reserve, appealing always to a deep sense behind the words: that Amen-Renef is everywhere in the sense that without its Supra-Existence, nothing could exist.

Now acknowledging Amen-Renef, whose essence is unknown, we can enter the realms of the creation cycles, of which we are a part.


[An excerpt from Egyptian Cosmology: The Animated Universe, Third Edition by Moustafa Gadalla