Geb (also spelled Seb, and Keb) was an important member of the Ennead, the pantheon of deities revered in ancient Lower Egypt. Geb represented the earth and its fertility, and, over time, came to be associated with rituals surrounding death and rebirth, given that he was the final resting of all living beings. In this guise he was most prominent in Egyptian religious practice, as a large portion of Egyptian practical theology centered around funerary rites. Given ancient Egyptian's emphasis on the afterlife, they accorded Geb a preeminent place in their rituals involving death and rebirth. Additionally, he was credited with fathering (with his wife Nut (the sky)) the fourth generation of deities, including Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys, which became important in later Egyptian mythology.
As an Egyptian deity, Geb belonged to a complex religious, mythological and cosmological belief system developed in the Nile river basin from earliest prehistory to 525 B.C.E. Indeed, it was during this relatively late period in Egyptian cultural development, a time when they first felt their beliefs threatened by foreigners, that many of their myths, legends and religious beliefs were first recorded. The cults within this framework, whose beliefs comprise the myths we have before us, were generally fairly localized phenomena, with different deities having the place of honor in different communities. Despite this apparently unlimited diversity, however, the gods (unlike those in many other pantheons) were relatively ill-defined. As Frankfort notes: “the Egyptian gods are imperfect as individuals. If we compare two of them … we find, not two personages, but two sets of functions and emblems. … The hymns and prayers addressed to these gods differ only in the epithets and attributes used. There is no hint that the hymns were addressed to individuals differing in character.” One reason for this was the undeniable fact that the Egyptian gods were seen as utterly immanental—they represented (and were continuous with) particular, discrete elements of the natural world. Thus, those who did develop characters and mythologies were generally quite portable, as they could retain their discrete forms without interfering with the various cults already in practice elsewhere. Also, this flexibility was what permitted the development of multipartite cults (i.e. the cult of Amun-Re, which unified the domains of Amun and Re), as the spheres of influence of these various deities were often complementary.
The worldview engendered by ancient Egyptian religion was uniquely appropriate to (and defined by) the geographical and calendrical realities of its believers' lives. Unlike the beliefs of the Hebrews, Mesopotamians and others within their cultural sphere, the Egyptians viewed both history and cosmology as being well ordered, cyclical, and dependable. As a result, all changes were interpreted as either inconsequential deviations from the cosmic plan or cyclical transformations required by it. The major result of this perspective, in terms of the religious imagination, was to reduce the relevance of the present, as the entirety of history (when conceived of cyclically) was ultimately defined during the creation of the cosmos. The only other aporia in such an understanding is death, which seems to present a radical break with continuity. To maintain the integrity of this worldview, an intricate system of practices and beliefs (including the extensive mythic geographies of the afterlife, texts providing moral guidance (for this life and the next) and rituals designed to facilitate the transportation into the afterlife) was developed, whose primary purpose was to emphasize the unending continuation of existence. Given these two cultural foci, it is understandable that the tales recorded within this mythological corpus tended to be either creation accounts or depictions of the world of the dead, with a particular focus on the relationship between the gods and their human constituents.
Geb was one of the most ancient deities in the Egyptian pantheon, whose centrality was attested to by both his place in the cosmos (as the fertile earth that sustained the lives of the early Egyptians) and his place in the mythic corpus (as the father of such manifestly important deities as Osiris, Isis, and Set). He was revered primarily in Lower Egypt, especially in the area around Heliopolis, and was a member of the Enneadic Pantheon.
In early Egyptian mythology, Geb was revered as the personification of the earth, whose name could literally be translated as "earth" or "ground." In fact, his rumbling, chthonic laughter was seen as the cause of earthquakes  He was understood to be the grandson of the primal creator Atum, the son of the primordial elements Tefnut (moisture) and Shu (dryness), the husband of Nut (the sky), and the father of four young (and mythically central) gods—Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys.
Over time, the hieroglyph used in his name became associated with the habitable land of Egypt, and thus with vegetation and fertility. Given the immanental identification between the god and the physical substance of the earth, this association was understood in very concrete terms: barley was said to grow upon his ribs, his iconic images were often colored green (representing vegetation) or were covered with the glyph meaning "fertile." All things in this world, whether animal, vegetable or mineral, were described as being "on the back of Geb." Likewise, Geb's character (as an anthropomorphization of earth) also meant that he was a component of Egyptian funerary practice, as the dead were literally returned to his bosom through interment. This correspondence, and its relevance to ancient religious practices, is discussed below.
Finally, Geb was understood to be one of the primordial rulers of the natural world, ensuring the regular and systematic operation of the cosmos. In some archaic accounts, he was described as ruling in concert with the other members of the Ennead, though such models of egalitarian leadership fell into disfavor with the rise and consolidation of the Egyptian monarchical system. In later versions, he was appointed as the successor of the Sun God, who realized that (after he retreated to the sky) someone would need to defend the world against the darkness and chaos of Apep. In a later, sycretic version of the the succession story, Geb was described as usurping the throne from his father (Shu) and taking his mother (Tefnut) as his primary consort. This forms an explicit parallel to the Greek account describing Cronus's rebellion against his father, Uranus. Regardless of the specifics of the account, the character of Geb retains a strong association with rulership. As Wilkinson summarizes, "the Egyptian king himself was called the 'heir of Geb' and was said to sit upon the 'seat of Geb'. The god was thus involved in the transmission of kingship, and in the mythical story known as the 'Contendings of Horus and Seth' (preserved in the twentieth-dynasty Papyrus Chester Beatty I), it is Geb who acts as the presiding judge in determining the rightful heir to the throne. This role of support for the king is present even as early as the Pyramid Texts where Geb champions the king as Horus over Seth."
The role of Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky) in the early mythic cosmos is described in the typically "concrete" style of Egyptian mythology. Namely, the two deities were understood to be engaged in an eternal act of copulation, wherein Nut came to conceive her four exemplary children (Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys). However, the embrace of the two deities was so passionate that there was literally no space between them, which meant that nothing else could possibly come to exist. As a result, it was necessary for Shu (air) to intercede, forcibly lifting Nut away from her lover and holding her at a distance. This separation allowed for the birth of the next generation of gods, and for the eventual flowering of the earth. As a result, many depictions of the two deities feature Geb lying prone beneath the arched body of Nut, who is held in place by Shu—the earth god is often seen reaching vainly towards his erstwhile lover with his arms and/or his erect phallus. 
Geb and Nut were also seen as the origin of the Great Egg, from which the sun god (in the form of a phoenix) was born. As a result of this myth (and likely due to a homophone in the original language), Geb came to be associated with geese and was referred to as the Great Cackler.
Given the fact that Geb was associated with the earth (and thus with all things buried within it), it is not surprising that he played a prominent role in the Egyptian understanding of the afterlife. The moral dead were understood to be released from his earthen grasp, while the immoral were destined to be forever entombed beneath the soil. For this reason, he is frequently mentioned in the Pyramid Texts—funerary inscriptions whose primary purpose was to present liturgical utterances to the gods on behalf of deceased pharaohs. Throughout this vast corpus of texts, the god of the soil is mentioned by name more frequently than most other Egyptian deities.
For example, the following utterance makes use of a number of elements from the mythic characterization of Geb, including his affiliation with kingship, his role as father of Osiris, his aptitude as a healer, and the universality of his chthonic embrace (as all living beings must eventually pass into earth). In the quotation that follows, it should be noted that any mention of "Osiris N." refers to the soul of the deceased, as all beings came to be identified with the God of the Dead (Osiris) upon their passing from the mortal realm.
Numerous similar depictions of the god exist throughout the Pyramid Texts.
Another aspect of Geb's character, namely his association with the fertility of the earth, was also referenced in Egyptian funerary customs—specifically through the notion that the deity continued to exercise jurisdiction over the fruits of the earth. As a result, when certain types of funeral liturgies called for the presentation of earthly bounty (i.e. beer, bread, or animal products) to the gods, they were offered in Geb's name, for the benefit of the deceased.
Finally, the location of Geb within the potent divine lineage of Atum, Osiris, and Horus also guaranteed his presence in these burial practices. During the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, which was utilized to sanctify both mummies and religious icons alike, the recipient is anointed with water and incense in the name of various deities, including the earth god:
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