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THE GODS AND GODDESSES OF ANCIENT EGYPT

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RE:

RE was the name conferred by the Dynastic Egyptians to the god of the sun who, though not quite as archaic as the god Horus, was arguably the most important deity of ancient Egypt. The original meaning of His name is unknown, but popularly seems to have been reckoned as ‘Creator’ or ‘Maker’. Worship of the sun in Egypt is very ancient and seems to have been universal, and at a very early period it was venerated as the hawk god, Horus. As early as the 2nd Dynasty, however, the epithet of RE appears in the name of King Neb-Re. RE was the universal deity of Heaven, Earth and the Underworld, a prime element in most creation myths who assumed the role of divine father and protector of the King. Although the Memphite Kings of the 3rd and 4th Dynasties recognized the cult of Ptah as their predominant religious tenet, the celestial implication of their pyramid complexes suggests a solar inference in the placing of funerary boats in the vicinity of their tombs. At this period, extensive expeditions in the Sinai and Lebanon sustained an ongoing relationship with the East. For the populations in the East, the sun god represented in Human form may well have assisted the perpetuation of His worship in the cult center of Pithom where RE was identified with the living man- god, Atum. The trade routes linking Arabia to Egypt would have accommodated a cultural influx of these populations into RE’s capital at Heliopolis, perhaps that characteristic phallic icon which later manifested in the worship of the Obelisk. The Pyramid age of Ptah was one of great intellectual application, social organization, disciplined energy and wealth. Ptah was the god of the Universal Mind and indeed this period may well be reckoned as the ultimate culmination of a harmonious creative endeavor, the height of Human ingenuity. King Snefru’s military activities did well to secure Egypt’s borders from hostile confrontations. Any disruptive activity would have to ferment from within. Prolonged peace had engendered the cultural evolutions which occur during periods of leisure and indeed a developmental transformation had begun to cultivate amongst the liberal upper classes and aristocracy. Re-Hotep, a royal official under King Snefru, who secured his position as Superintendent of the South was himself a sun worshiper. Khnum- Khufu, Snefru’s Successor, ascended the throne on a wave of insurrection as the Priest-hood began gaining converts from amongst the Royalty. Khnum- Khufu means ‘Guarded by Khnum’. Khnum, the ram god, was the ‘modeler’ of the universe having a direct connection with Ptah, but the sects developed separately being subject to different racial influences. Khnum more significantly merged with the sun cult as the Soul of RE, depicted as a ram (Ba- en- RE), an incarnation of Osiris, while Ptah’s relationship to Khnum was confined to the cult of Memphis. Likewise, Khnum’s wives, Heqet and Satis, identified with Bat- Hathor and Nuet. RE received His first concession when Khufu’s son/successor assumed the name Kha-f-Re (Brightness of RE) and by the next dynasty onward kings took the title ‘Son of RE.' Sun worship became the official religion and even Osiris became identified with the dyeing and rising sun.

Re

 

 

Hathor Left
Hothor Right

HATHOR:

Hathor, most commonly known as Het- Hr Het- Heret, was acclaimed from the earliest to the latest times in Dynastic History as one of Egypt’s oldest and greatest goddesses.
The name Het- Heret translates as ‘House Above’, or more specifically as Het- Hra, ’House of the Face’, referring to the lofty expanse of the sky, unreachable and distant.
Rendered as Het- Hor, Her name means ‘House of Horus’.
The forms the goddess assumed are as numerous as the number of goddesses She later identified with, but Her most common representation from the most archaic times was a cow or a woman with those attributes.
Her origin quite certainly reaches far back into Pre- History though most evidence of Her dates to later Dynastic times, especially the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom and the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom, and in the funerary papyri of the New Kingdom.
Before expounding Her most important functions in context of those later periods, however, an examination of Her influence and development in the most archaic times should be elucidated first and foremost.
A detailed and cognizant reckoning of Her earliest appearances refers us to those prehistoric pastoral societies to the east and west of the Nile Valley between 7000 and 4000 B.C.E. who indeed were the primary contributors to Farming, Husbandry, and long distance trade amongst the valley dwellers and their immediate neighbors.
No later than 6000 B.C.E., Neolithic hunters/ gatherers began to take on a Farming/ Herding ‘economy’ which stretched on at the very least for two millennia, and remains of floor and hearth residuum are observable at sites like Nabta indicating the existence of settled communities at that very remote period.
Petroglyphs and rock face paintings illustrate an ‘amuletic’ significance given to its subject matter, most which depict both wild and domesticated cattle, special care having been rendered which demonstrate the emphasis of ‘milk pots’, later to become a common motif in Egyptian symbolism. In the wadis of the Eastern Desert, rock artworks prefigure very early allegorical prototypes indicative of what would later become emblematic of the Bat- Hathor cultus, specifically the depiction of mysterious ‘wedge shaped’ figures in ritual posture suggestive of later archetypical images.
A thousand years before the emergence of the Naqada culture, extensive exploitation of silstone schist quarries in the Black Mountains and Red Sea Hills along the Wadi Hammammat accommodated frequent contact between the Nile Valley and eastern migratory traders. Amongst the most notable artifacts are those objects categorically referred to (erroneously) as Slate Palettes, flat smooth pieces of stone upon which mineral ore was ground to produce face paint. These curious articles later evolved into quite refined objects of art in their own right as commemorative offerings and grave items. One such ‘palette’ depicts a Bovine figure in ritual pose and with an obvious celestial inference. This presupposes the identification of the Bat- Hathor cultus with star worship as would be conducive to a society endeavored to pilgrimage and navigation.
Consolidation of the territories between Tjeni, Nubet and Nekhen mark the period during which all significant burial sites of the Naqada culture, most notably at Abadiya, Mahasna, el- Amra and Gebelein, reveal to us that cattle were buried alongside humans in a matter which confirms the intense spiritual relationship between the Egyptians and their fellow creatures upon whose livelihood they depended. More so, the seasonal rains which occasionally transformed the savannah into a lush esplanade would have perpetuated the idea of an all nurturing sky goddess.
References of the type here described are so numerous in the art and iconography of Pre- Dynastic Egypt, it may well be stated that the study of Egypt’s prehistory and the cult of the Bovine are inextricably one and the same. One remarkable example is to be seen on a rock art tableau which portrays a double plumed figure, so common in later Dynastic iconography, standing next to a smaller figure. The plumed figure is shown tethering a cow adorned with an elaborate head- dress thus identifying the animal’s divine significance.
Another rendering nearby depicts the same plumed figure, a prototype perhaps of the ‘Horus of Nekhen’, with the ceremonial mace- head of power later wielded by kings of the Dynastic Period. Here we are able to recognize a very ancient representation of the tribal leader or Man- God in His capacity of ‘Shepherd of His People’.
It is of particular interest to note, however, that it is the Female in Her peculiar Bovine ritual posture which predominates the subject matter. Other works of the period depict characters in the same attitude in high prowed boats, a quite common subject in the art of the times.
The transition to the Dynastic Age is evinced by the appearance of a number of votive palettes and mace- heads discovered in repositories such as that at Nekhen, the Hawk City, the most significant which is the Meri- Nar Palette. It is the prototype of nearly all Egyptian iconography from that period on, and as one of the oldest, most important written documents in the history of civilization, it set the standard for all which followed. On both sides of the palette at the top, the King’s name contained in a palace ‘House’, or ‘serekh’, is flanked by two frontal face representations of the goddess Bat- Hathor. She seems to be gazing down ‘from upon high’ at the King smiting His foes in His original form as ‘Uniter of the Two Lands’. The significance of the Sky Goddess is obvious. In this particular function, She is manifest as Het- Hor, House of Horus.
Besides the 3rd Dynasty temple at Gebelein, evidence of Her recognition is scant throughout the first three dynasties which mark the age of the Memphite Priesthood of Ptah, but a well rendered sculpture from the 4th Dynasty Valley Temple of Men- Ka- RE depicts Hathor and the goddess of the Jackal District flanking the King in a divine triad.
It is worthy to take into account that it is during this period in the 4th Dynasty when the cult of RE begins to predominate over that of Ptah as the national god, and also that He assumes the more demonstrative authority as Sun God par excellence where Horus previously presided. Perhaps the 3rd Dynasty temple at Gebelein prognosticates the ascendency of the RE cult which was soon to follow.
Likewise, in the city of Diospolis Parva, known as ‘House of the Sistrum’,the district standard seems to have evolved from a Pre- Dynastic fetish object reminiscent of even earlier ritual representations. Originally set upon a blazon and placed at the doorway of an ancient shrine, this object in the form of a cow’s head later became symbolized in the shape of the sistrum rattle, a common icon of the Goddess in one of Her most auspicious faculties.

In the capital of Heliopolis, RE syncretized with the former god of that district to form RE- Atum. One of Hathor’s names was ‘Hand of Atum’, and in this role, She was that essence of the god which produced the Universe in an act of cosmic masturbation. She also was well known as the ‘Eye of RE’, and as such is to be reckoned one and the same as the goddess, Sekhemet, the female counterpart of the god, Ptah.
Indeed, Hathor assumed the identities of every goddess in Egypt’s long history and whenever She entered into the covenant of any particular family of gods, She thus became the dominant figure. She symbolized, therefore, all those aspects of the Feminine the Ancient Egyptians held to be most sacred and venerable,.....Wife, Mother, Protectress and Patroness of beauty and sexual passion.
In the Pyramid Texts of King Pepi 1, She is referred to as the goddess of that Eastern part of the sky, the watery abyss from where the sun god emerged referred to as Qebhu. Likewise, She was worshiped as ‘Lady of Amentet’, ‘the Hidden’, Goddess of the Western Horizon where the dead awaited passage into the Underworld.
It is not surprising that the Greeks identified Her with Aphrodite as sexuality and becoming women just as She was worshiped well into late Ptolemaic times in the city of Dendera. Her overt sexuality is indicated in a story which explicitly describes how She exposed Herself to the Sun God to gain entry into His company as ‘Mistress of the Vagina’. She was also a mistress of music and dancing ,of intoxication, song and Myrr. A well known myth in Dendera speaks of ‘the Seven Hathors’, beautiful maidens with lyres, sistra and tambourines who acted as prophetic Devi.
The annual high point of Her cult was enacted in the sacred marriage festivals between Herself and the god, Horus of Etfu where She was taken from Her shrine in Dendera to the House of Horus during the day preceding the New Moon in which various carnal rituals lasted for the period of 14 days and which the Royalty, Nobility and Commoners alike indulged in celebrations.
It is hardly practical to attempt to describe all the individual forms the goddess, Hathor assumed or all the functions She performed in a single essay and it is true that the aspects of Her worship are impossible to generalize in totality.
Despite the fact that in the final period of Egypt’s Dynastic Age as She became assimilated with the cult of Isis, many Egyptians continued to venerate Hathor in Her own individual identity and with much affection for the remainder of Egypt’s dynastic history and even after.

 

SEKHEMET:

The very name of the goddess on Her appearance as the Eye of RE, Sekhemet (or Sekht) derives from the root word ‘sekhem,’ which translates as ‘strong, mighty, powerful’ and these attributes imply an aggressive, perhaps violent nature as She was the manifestation of the sun’s scorching , often destructive rays.
As the goddess who appears on the brow of RE, She is the cobra goddess Mehenet. From this position She pours forth the blazing fire which consumes the enemies of Her father who come near, and shoots fiery darts the fiends at a distance.
Thus She proclaims, “I set the fierce heat of the fire for a distance of a million cubits between Osiris and His enemy. I keep away from Him the evil ones. I remove His foes from His habitation.”
A common name for her is Nesret, that is ‘Flame,’ and it is quite apparent Her attributes identify Her with Uadjit, the Eye of RE, ‘Lady of Flame.’ In the Apocalyptic texts describing the destruction on Mankind, the Eye of RE is Hathor revealing Herself as Sekht. In this particular myth, Humanity ridicules and blasphemes the sun-god as He begins to age, saying, “Behold His majesty of life, strength and health grows old.. His bones are silver, His limbs gold, His hair lapis-lazuli.” In this story it is to be recognized that His company consists of eight gods, one amongst those, the goddess who goes forth as His raging eye to avenge the iniquitous ones.
The only way Mankind escapes Her wrath before utter annihilation is that the goddess is made drunk as She wades and indulges in the blood of Her victims, all of whom flee to the mountains in order avoid Her frenzy. Perhaps there are comparisons to be made in light of this between the goddess Sekhemet and the blood thirsty Hindu goddess Kali who springs forth from the forehead of Shiva as His Shakti. Although it is most likely coincidental, the concepts of Sekht and Shakti both translate as ‘power.’ It is well known that the ancient Egyptians endowed themselves a fiery, spiritual element to their soul-hood an essence they called the sekhem.
Both goddesses manifest as the eye that comes forth from the forehead of the god in this vengeful, indiscriminate manner.

Sekhemet
Sekhemet
It is also common knowledge to the student of Egyptian myth that Sekhemet was the consort of Ptah, as Maat was the consort of Thoth and as Tefnut was the consort of Shu, so forth and so on. So as these theogonies related to each other in their uniquely Egyptian way, She could and did assume the personages of these various goddesses. That She is a manifestation of one from amongst the eight primordials is indicated when RE seeks the counsel of those who assisted Him in forming the universe.
When Tehuti, in the form of Tekh, created the universe, He was assisted by those who came from the watery mass, the Eye of RE. As wife of Ptah, in the city of the White Wall,
Men-Nefer, She was reckoned the mother of Nefertum and also of the deified vizier/architect, Imhotep, to whom was attributed the creation of Zoser’s Step Pyramid.
Besides being identified as a goddess of war and pestilence , She was also understood as a goddess of healing in Her more gentle incarnation as Bastet. In very late times, pilgrims visited Her temples and those of Imhotep for their reputation as sanctuaries for the ill. Various titles of the goddess imply that She was of Libyan origin and that at a very early period , She was worshiped by the people of the Northwest Delta. Her iconography suggest strong similarities with other foreign goddesses, some who occasionally were also worshiped in the Delta region. Goddesses such as Astoreth may have shared several distinct qualities with Her rendering them more acceptable to the Egyptian as was probably the case with other deities like Neith and Anat, Set and Baal.

 

 

Bes

BES:

Very early on in its history, the civilization of the Ancient Egyptians had remained remarkably tolerant of the gods which arrived from cultures beyond its own borders. That the land of the Nile was of significant geographic importance and location most likely obliged this phenomenon, as was the case for many of its neighbors in the Near East. Similarities in function and iconography would also contribute to such circumstances.
By the late Pre- Dynastic Period the primitive dwellers of the Nile had begun to adopt techniques in artistic expression conducive to extensive foreign contact, mostly from the East.
Even then, there had already flourished amongst the native population a well established conventionalism that was amply influenced by animistic clans from the Southern frontiers whose predominant schemes exalted a substantial proclivity towards totemism and animal worship, both which greatly influenced the later Dynastic Egyptians as a means of religious articulation.
Of respective interest was the god the Egyptians reckoned Bes, or ‘Besu’ whose name derives from the animal of that name, seemingly a leopard or large cat (Felis Cynailurus). It was a common motif for Bes to be depicted wearing this animal’s skin as well as being represented with its long tail, a peculiarity which endured His entire history. The fact that Bes is portrayed as a bestial dwarf with a large plumed head dress evokes the idea of the primitive shaman from the dark equatorial region of Africa where perhaps dwarves were considered magical.
At least for the Egyptians this was true.The earliest mention of Him is to be read in the Pyramid Texts of the 6th Dynasty which refer to the ‘tail of Bes.’ Another Southern god of the same origin was the war god, Dadun of Ta-Sti (Nubia), whom under Tuthmosis IIIrd was referred to as ‘wearer of the leopard skin,’ a trait later accredited to Bes which clearly indicates His connection with the Panther Tribe.
This particular article was depicted worn by priests throughout the dynasties of Egypt’s history, from the earliest to last.
The oldest known representation of Bes is to be found on a magic wand, or ‘throwing stick,’ now in the British Museum (No. 18175) which portrays an array of mythological animals quite commonly recognized as creatures rendered on other votive offerings of the same pre-dynastic period. Bes, exhibiting his typical frontal squat and panther tail, holds two serpents, one in each hand.
It is of interest to note that the artisan god, Ptah, male consort of Sekhemet, was at times depicted as a dwarf exhibiting many of the same features grasping two snakes. Indeed, in early dynasties His cult fetishes included eight squatting gnomes.
Bes, to the Egyptians, was as popular amongst the common folk as He was to the Royalty and Priesthood as a good luck charm, a humorous god of health, happiness and joy. In the Temple of Hatshepsuet, He is present with several goddesses in the Lady Pharaoh’s birth chamber. He was a guardian of mothers and children.
The King’s official, Hor-Khuef, brought to his majesty a pygmy to amuse him, while three rulers of the sixth Dynasty are ultimately identified as ‘the Dwarf of the Dance who made happy the heart of the god.’
Many representations of Bes bedeck the parlors of Egyptian queens, His visage adorning handles of mirrors and other embellishments one would expect to find on the person of a maiden seeking good health and fertility.
And as His popularity increased, His qualities and functions accumulated . The benevolent cheerful leprechaun so obliged to manifest in the Queen’s domicile performed alternative deeds in the service of the King. We begin to recognize the face of the merry, almost playful, god as more than just a charming ‘embellishment’ upon further inspection.
In the tomb of Seti and several kings of the 20th Dynasty, the Book of Gates places a rather mysterious god in the Tenth Division of the Underworld, whose entrance is guarded by the serpent god, Sethu. This illusive deity is Besi, who appears to be pouring flame upon a standard topped with the head of a horned animal as part of an elaborate ritual to ensure the deceased a passage to the Region of Sunrise.
In the second corridor of Seti’s tomb, He is a hawk headed Besu-Shemti. In the Papyrus of Neferu-Beref, Chapter 28 (as well as the Saite version of this chapter), the deceased kneels, holding his heart upon his breast with his left hand before the god, not as a dwarf, but as a monster who holds a knife in one hand and grasping His tail in the other. He looks to be guarding a gate. Neferu-Benef addresses the god to protect him from those who would steal his heart.
The figure of Bes is also to be seen on various plaques which act as protective amulets against demons of illness and possession, and in these very late representations, he absorbs the characteristics of several other gods. He is a sort of air djinn in this capacity.
It is perhaps difficult to understand how or why the god of health and happiness would gradually assume such a role as avenging deity. It’s possible the god who protected children and pregnant women simply displayed those vigilant tendencies so often recognized in loving but very observant parents.
Whatever the explanation, Bes remained to the people of Egypt a much endeared, highly regarded god and His fame persisted in name long after He was forgotten, on into the time of the Coptics as one of their own, Besa, a disciple of Shenuti, took the name for himself.

 

 

Khnum

KHNUM:

The cult of the deity, Khnum, apparently one of the oldest in Egyptian history, was most likely predynastic in orgin. His manifestation was the flat horned ram, an animal introduced into Egypt from the 'East' prior to the Archaic period. He was the protector of King Khufu as the royal titulary signifies, and was the incarnation of the eight lunar deities of creation. His consort was Heqet, the amphibian goddess of the Ogdoas. In this aspect he was related with Djehuti. He was also familiar to Ausaur as a water deity, and as RE during the Old Kingdom. The Pyramid Texts of King Unas (fifth dynasty) contain passages that mention Khnum in an archaic character. As 'Creator of the Egg' he fuses with Qeb and Ptah. Khnum fuses with Sokar in the fifth division of the Night. He reconstructs the dead near the sanctuary of Ausaur, the barren place entered through the South Gate guarding the region of fire, and in this capacity he is the divine reanimator.

 

 

 

SATIS (SATET):


Satis (Egyptian Satet) was the consort of the ancient god of Elephantine (Abu), Khnum. She was also the sister (sometimes mother) of the goddess, Anukis, thus comprising the city's divine triad. The site of ancient Abu is located in Upper Egypt near the area of Aswan where, as the as the ancient Egyptians believed, sprang the very source of the life giving Nile and it is for this reason the goddess is reckoned as the living personification of the annual inundation. In this regard, She was identified as a manifestation of the goddess, Sopdet, that is the Dog Star, Sothis which rose in the East during the coming of the Flood marking the New Year for the ancient Egyptians. Thus, She might also be regarded as a form of Isis.
The antiquity of Her worship is attested on stone jars found beneath the 3rd Dynasty Step Pyramid of Zoser in Saqqara and She is also mentioned in the Pyramid Texts of King Pepi in the 6th Dynasty.
The root of Her name, Sat, means 'to shoot' or 'to eject'and is written with the symbol for an arrow and in this capacity as goddess of the Chase, She may be identified as the Upper Egyptian manifestation of the goddess, Neith. At Thebes, She was identified with Amunet. The Greeks identified Her with Hera. Abu was very much regarded as a sacred place by the ancient Egyptians and it is worth noting that as the goddess, Sethat, She purified the devotee with the holy waters 'which was in Her four vases'.
The center of Her worship was on the Island of Sahal in the First Cataract about two miles south of ancient Abu.

Satis (Satet)

 

 

 

 

Anukis (Anuket)

ANUKIS (ANUKET):


Anukis (Egyptian Anuket or Anqet) was the third member of the triad of Elephantine (Abu) which included Her sister (sometimes mother or daughter), Satis and the god, Khnum. Anukis obviously shared many of the same attributes as Her sister, Satis, having originally being a goddess worshiped on the southernmost frontiers of Egypt in Northern Nubia. Her feathered head-dress gives the impression that She was a goddess whose worship originated in a place 'of savage origin'.
The root of Her name, Anq, means 'to surround' or 'to embrace', which seems to refer to the personification of the Nile as a motherly nourisher or fructifier, perhaps in the capacity of 'midwife'. In fact, She is oft refered to as 'Mother of the King'. Her name may also be interpreted as 'crusher'. Her dual nature is implied by the fact that She was identified as the goddess, Hathor at Thebes.
Likewise, She was also associated with the goddess, Nephthys just as Her sister, Satis was identified with Isis.
The Greeks equated Her with Hestia, goddess of the Hearth.

 

 

 

AMUN (AMON):

As is stated in my vignette of Amunet, Amun was one of Eight primordial deities in the Hermopolitan Ogdoad presided over by a ninth, the lunar god Djehuti. They were the gods that presided in the dark chaos at the beginning of time itself, the germs of all living things. To the ancient Egyptians,this was a great mystery better understood through the heart (or conscience) than with the objective mind. What is most obscure and ironic is that Amun, 'the hidden,' should by the twelfth dynasty, somehow emerge from his own shadowy history and onto the great monuments of the Middle Kingdom. Again in the New Kingdom, he fused with and into the Heliopolan solar deity RE... to form Amun-RE. The once mysterious god so unknowable manifested into the celebrated all prevaiding Creator in the age of Egypt's seventeenth dynasty 'Empire.'

Amun (Amon)

 

 

 

 

Amunet

AMUNET:

Amunet was the feminine principle of the primordial moon god Amun, originally consorting with the other pairs of deities forming the Ogdoad, or dwellers in the city of Eight. They were personifications of Stillness, Silence, Obscurity and Mystery. The name 'Amun,' means 'to be hidden.' During the eleventh and twelfth dynasties, Sehotep-abre-Amenemhat acknowledged the ascendancy of Amun from its shadowy place in Egypt's theogeny by incorporating the name in his royal titulary. By this time Amunet, like her husband and son Amun, had changed according to the roles of a reborn Egypt. She became MeUT-Apet, which illustrates that her lunar influence still predominated her role as 'mother.' She was the original breath of life, and though MeUT signified mother, it was also the common noun for 'vulture.' By the eighteenth dynasty, Amunet had manifested in form to the goddess MeUT, consort of the new kingdom god par excellence Amun Ra.

 

 

 

Neith

NEITH:

One of the oldest and most venerable goddesses of ancient Egypt, Neith, was from the very earliest times reckoned as the patroness of hunting and warfare par excellence'. The first known examples of Her iconography appear in Predynastic period representations which depict the image of a barque bearing the standard of the 'crossed arrows', the motif later to become the symbol of Her name.
The goddess' name also appears on the lid of an ivory box and vase where it occurs in connection with Queen Neith-Hetep, who was related to Sma and consequentially would point to Her having been either the mother or wife of the 1st Dynasty King, Hor-Aha. King Hor-Aha, it seems, probably established Her capital at Sais (Zauet) in the 5th Lower Egyptian nome of the Delta precinct, Sapi-Meht, also known asThe House of Neith.
In fact, this theophoric incorporation of Her name into those of the queens' at this early stage emphasize Her importance in regards to 'The Royal House' at a very remote time in Egypt's history.
Neith's earliest attributes and functions have proven an enigma despite repeated attempts to understand them through any etymological method since the views which the ancient Egyptians held concerning Her divine role are gathered from sources rendered at much later dates.
The first known anthropomorphic representation of Her occurs on a Diorite vase dating to the reign of Ninetjer in the 2nd Dynasty, but was found in the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara where several of Her priests and priestesses were buried in the mastaba tombs in the surrounding necropolis.

By this time, Her symbol, which was also the standard of Her capital city, was the crossed arrow and shield and She is depicted wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt. The animals sacred to Her were the Bee and the Elaterid Beetle (Agrypnus Notodonta).
Known as 'Cow of Heaven', Mehet-Twaret, She becomes equated with the sky goddess, Nuet and Tawaret, the wife of Set.
As 'Protectress of the House', She is similar to Nephthys, and represented thus as a Uraeus, may be related to Hathor as 'The Eye of Re'.
From the beginning to end, She was known as 'Opener of the Ways' (Upuat) which connects Her with the funerary god, Anubis. She is ' Opener of the Sun's Path in All Her Stations', and in this way She symbolizes those portions of the hourly and seasonal changes unperceived, the invisible realm of the Duat over which She presides.
Causing corporeal, physical matter to manifest ( Xeper, Xeperu) from the void, the inert mass potential called Nun, is Her primary function.
She might well be thought of as a feminine counterpart to the self-created god, Atum. She is described as 'Hmswet', the feminine counterpart of the Ka, 'present before birth'. Through air and light, She brings on Creation from the Unseen Reality.
Originally a goddess of war and/or the hunt, as has been articulated, it is easy to imagine Neith as a sort of wood spirit revered by those people of Libyan origin to the west and southwest of Egypt. Though, at some point, She'd become recognized as the personification of the primeval watery mass from which the sun-god emerged.
Her warlike attributes likewise assisted the king by shooting with Her arrows or slaying with the harpoon, the enemies of the deceased during the underworld journey. And as Protectress of the Dead, She is depicted guarding the organs of the deceased alongside Duamutef, one of the four sons of Horus.
Considering the root of Her name with the word, 'Netet', She may also be reckoned as a goddess of weaving and indeed references are made to Her connection with the swathings of the deceased during mummification. Some examples describe Her function as one whom clothes the deceased in the Netherworlds thus identifying Her with, or as, the goddess, Tatet.
During the 19th Dynasty, She was given a place next to the god Amun and in the tomb of Nefertari, She assisted the Queen with her wardrobe in the Afterlife.
Besides being the mother of Re, She was also widely known as the mother of the crocodile god, Sobek. In some instances She is portrayed as a woman nursing two crocodiles who are most likely intended to correspond to Sobek and Horus (or perhaps the Osiris). Another conclusion is that the second crocodile is none other than the god, Set, with whom She is often linked. This would seem to substantiate Her identification with the goddesses Tawaret and Nephthys.
The Persian Kings Amasis and Cambyses also acknowledged Her divinity and contributed to the re-establishment of Her temples and sanctuaries in Her capital at Sais. Likewise, the foreign goddess, Anat (or Anathat, Anahita) might be recognized as a form of Neith, taking into account the similarities between the symbolism underlying these goddesses' war-like attributes.
The word 'Nit', which translates as 'Being' avows Her to proclaim, "I Am Everything that Has Been, that which IS, and All that Shall Be". Herodotus relates to us the annual festival sacred unto Her throughout the whole of Egypt, 'The Feast of Lamps', when candles and lamps of pure oil were lit in homage to Her from sunset to sunrise.
Therefore, as a goddess whom presides over both the Twilight and the Dawn, She might very well be equated with Venus, that is, Ishtar or Astarte. In fact, throughout all periods of Ancient and even Classical History, She becomes conducive to more divine personages than perhaps any other single deity.
During the Roman period She was reckoned as Minerva while the Greeks worshiped Her in the form of Athena and Her capital was placed in the Southern Egyptian city of Esna.
The Berbers equated Her with Tanit.
She was, and remains, the archetype of the Virgin Mother still widely venerated by Christian sects today and it is doubtless that Her ubiquitous reverence contributed significantly to the inception of Christianity.

 

 

 

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