ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
  • Falsone, Gioacchino. "Anath or Astarte? A Phoenician Bronze Statuette of the Smiting Goddess". in Religio Phoenicia: acta colloquii Namurcensis habiti diebus 14 et 15 mensis Decembris anni 1984. Namur, Société des études classiques, 1986.

    This article discusses the rare bronze figurines of goddesses in the "smiting god" pose - left foot forward, both arms bent 90°, right one raised, weapons held in both hands (usually lost). The particular statue being discussed also wears the Isis/Hathor horned sundisc, which other Syro-Palestinian goddesses wear (possibly including Anat) but "in a peaceful attitude".

    "Athtart (Ashtart/Astarte) is less often mentioned and more obscure [than Anat], but may have had some similar functions. Some scholars have stressed her war attitude and her roles in hunting and chariotry. Later she becomes more sensual and less warlike. In the Iron Age, in fact, Anath seems to disappear or, at any rate, loses her importance, while Astarte assumes her functions and becomes the chief female deity of the Phoenician pantheon." (p 74)

  • te Velde, Herman. Seth, God of Confusion: a study of his role in Egyptian mythology and religion. 2nd ed. Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1977.
  • Gardiner, Alan H. Hieratic papyri in the British Museum. Third series, Chester Beatty gift. London, British Museum, 1935.
  • Dawson, Warren (1936). Observations on Ch. Beatty Papyri VII, VIII and XII. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 22, 1936, pp 106–108.

  • In the Contendings of Horus and Set, the goddess Neith suggests that Set be married off to Anat and Astarte, while Horus gets the throne. "However," remarks te Velde, "the gods do not entertain this proposal."

    However, Set is linked sexually with Anat in Papyrus Chester Beatty VII, which possibly tells the story of Set raping (?) Anat while she was bathing, and how "the poison" ("the same Egyptian word was often used for 'seed', 'semen', and both senses are here intended together", remarks Gardiner) went up to his own forehead, making him sick. Anat begs Re to save Set. Re addresses her as "'Anat the divine, she the victorious, a woman acting as a warrior, clad as men and girt as women", and says ("cryptically"): "[Is it not?] a childish punishment (for?) the seed-poison put upon the wife of the god above [ie, Re] that he should copulate with her(?) in fire and open her(?) with a chisel?" In the end Isis arrives in the form of "a Nubian woman" and heals Set (and thus the patient, afflicted by scorpion poison).

    te Velde notes that Set has sex with 'Anat "who 'is dressed like man'", and quotes W.R. Dawson in a footnote: "The method by which Seth took his pleasure of 'Anat is interesting, as it further illustrates his already well-known homosexual tendencies." (p 37) However, both authors seem to be assuming that Anat was bathing fully clothed. ETA: Dawson's point is that Anat was on her hands and knees; otherwise, she would have drowned. But he also concedes that it wasn't anal sex, since "defloration resulted". tl;dr Egyptologists are weird.

    Gardiner: "That 'Anat became the consort of Seth is also implied by the obelisk of Tanis", on which Anat is called "the great cow(?) of Seth". (p 62)

    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    "See, from the breasts of Anat I have suckled, the big cow of Seth. See, I have lots of words against you! From the big pitcher of Seth I have drunk them; from his jug I have drained them. Listen, samana-demon, listen! The voice of Seth is roaring [… …] listen to his roaring!"

    From number 24 in Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts, translated by J. F. Borghouts, Leiden, Brill, 1978.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    There are Amduat images over at my Tumblr, dwellerinthelibrary, which focusses on mythology, especially the irresistable visuals of Ancient Egypt. (I can see have a bit of tidying up work to do over there, though!)

    The cosmic drama comes to its climax in the seventh hour, as Apophis tries to stop the sun-boat, preventing the sun-god's rebirth and "repeat[ing] the murder of Osiris". (And this battle takes place every night! The Egyptians lived with a constant threat the universe will come to its end. It's like growing up in the eighties.) Apophis dries up the water, and the barque can no longer be towed; it sails on by magical power, provided by Isis, Set (called "the eldest magician"), and the sun-god, who is protected by the Mehen-serpent, while the goddess Selkis puts Apophis in shackles and her assistants chop him to bits.

    The sun barque still has a long way to go and a lot of work to do before dawn. The middle register of the eighth hour is another long scene of the barque being towed, including "the four rams of Tatenen, the god of the depths of the earth". Again the ram symbolizes the four ba-souls of Re, here identifying him with Tatenen. (Exactly which four gods those four ba-souls represent changes with the source, in typical Egyptian fashion.)

    The upper and lower registers are each divided (by doors again called "knives") into five caverns. The hieroglyph for "cloth" appears repeatedly (often with someone sitting on it), with fresh clothing being provided for the afterlife and as part of the general business of rebirth. Osiris (also protected by the Mehen-serpent) sits in judgment on his foes, who are decapitated (by a cat-eared demon). The sun-god sends the stars "on their way, since their stable orbits are a sign of the continuous order of the cosmos".

    This bit blows my mind. "The texts in the vaults describe how the Ba-souls of these beings respond to the generous promises of the Sungod. Human ears hear their jubilation as cries of animals and sounds of nature, like the humming of bees, banging on metal, the screeching of tomcats, the crying of birds, the roaring of bulls, etc. The Sungod, however, is able to recognize what their distorted voices are shouting."

    The work of renewal continues in the ninth hour, with bread and beer provided to the dead by three "idols" sitting on what look like neb-baskets. The darkness is illuminated by twelve fire-breathing ureai. In the tenth hour ("With Deep Water and High Banks" – the barque is afloat again, at least part of the time), the solar eyes are restored; eight forms of Sekhmet stand before a seated Thoth, who holds the whole eye. Horus rescues the bodies of drowned people from decomposition (as Isis rescued the parts of Osiris' body from the Nile).

    The leftmost figure of the eleventh hour is the "Time Lord" (well, the "Master of Time", with three faces: the sun disc in the middle, and two crowned heads looking left and right (ie backwards and forwards), representing the two Egyptian concepts of time, nḥḥ and dt. Next, Atum repeats the gesture made by Sokar back in the fifth hour, holding (lifting?) the wings of a serpent, with the paired eyes appearing on either side of him. The renewed sun-disc now appears in the prow of the barque; it's preceded by fire-breathing goddesses riding "double serpents", and by twelve gods carrying the Mehen-serpent. Isis and Nephthys, in the form of ureai, carry the red and white crowns.

    Meanwhile, the condemned are punished once more, "at depths not visited by the Sungod… 'completely deep, completely dark, completely infinite'", in pits into which armed goddesses and the serpent "Who Burns Millions" spit fire. ("You have not come into being," declares Horus of the Netherworld, "you are upside down!" Take that!)

    Finally we've reached the twelfth hour, where gods (including the sun-god) and the blessed dead walk through the body of the Mehen-serpent from tail to mouth, emerging rejuvenated. The sun-god has been reborn as Khepri, and Shu lifts him to the horizon. Osiris remains behind in the Duat - shown as a corpse lying against its curved wall. (Both authors remark that the helpful Mehen-serpent points in the direction as the barque, while Apophis points in the opposite direction. "Nevertheless, later Egyptian texts speculate about Apophis having not only an evil, but also a positive, regenerating aspect." – which makes me think of Set's dual role as Osiris' enemy, but Re's ally against Apophis.)

    Hornung has briefly summarized the Amduat, pointing out a few key or interesting highlights, and I've summarized his summary! I'm struck, though, by how much internal logic there is, how much sense it all actually makes (even without the help of Abt's Jungian interpretation, which I've only glanced at). What's also striking is that the Egyptians expended so much thought on the details of what happened in the netherworld – the commands of the creator god were apparently enough to explain goings-on in the realm of the living. Or can we squint and see the complexities of the underworld renewal as a dark reflection of the constant processes of renewal in the natural world?

    Thanks again for the loan, [livejournal.com profile] kylaw!

    Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung. Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality. Living Human Heritage Publications, Zurich, 2003.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (nehebkau)
    I'm too tired this evening to do any really useful work, so instead, I shall blog about the goddess Tefnut's penis, mentioned in one mythological text, "The Revelation of the Mystery of Four Balls". (IIUC, during the ritual, each ball was given a message for the forces of evil in the form of a recited spell, and then whacked in one of the four cardinal directions by pharaoh, using a special bat.)

    penis of tefnut 2-a

    If you're interested in complex sexuality, as I am, there's a danger of seeing it when it isn't really there. But the converse is also true, of course. Puzzled by the passage ("qui n'offre aucun sense intelligble"), Goyon translated it as "you [Seth] have taken away the land-heritage [mt3t] of Tefnut"), But van Dijk ("I do not believe it is necessary to emend the text as Goyon has suggested) renders it: "you have taken away the penis [mt3] of Tefnut."

    So what's that all about, then? Van Dijk explains: "In this text Tefnut represents the primeval wife of the Creator god Re-Atum, who like Iusa'as and Nebethetepet symbolises the 'hand' with which the god masturbated in order to impregnate himself. By taking away the penis of this primeval androgynous goddess, Seth frustrates Re's rebirth and resurrection", just as he does in the story van Dijk is considering, in which Seth copulates with the Creator god's wife in the form of the god's Seed, the Seed embeds herself in Seth's forehead and poisons him, and Isis has to extract it.

    (My impression is that the Seed is comparable to the Eye - an active part of the god which can be separated from him and have temper tantrums to boot! When she attacks Seth, she "flew up to his forehead, to the region of his eyebrows", which is where you'd expect to find the Eye in uraeus form.)

    I wonder if there are matching references to, say, Shu's womb which could support van Dijk's reading of the line.

    Goyon, Jean-Claude. Textes mythologiques II. "Les révélations du mystère des Quatre Boules". Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’archéologie Orientale 75, 1975, pp 349-399.
    Van Dijk, J. "'Anat, Seth and the Seed of Pre". in J. H. Hospers and Herman L.J. Vanstiphout (eds). Scripta Signa Vocis. Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1986, pp 31-51.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    According to this Ptolemaic (300 BCE) papyrus, Seth turned himself into a leopard in order to approach Osiris (to steal his body?). Anubis overcame Seth, branded him all over with a hot iron, skinned him, and wore his pelt. Thus the leopard-skin robes worn by Egyptian priests. Blimey!
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    Check out this Late Period stela:

    Here's my best stab at rendering the inscription in English:
    "Down! Down! You greedy creature that grabs with both arms for the Eye of Re and the Horus child! Fly to the block of Sekhmet, so that it burns your limbs and cuts off your fingers, and your footprints run away from Egypt, without your son taking your place. If you go to the Lake of Fire as an enemy devouring the Eye of Horus, may the flame be in your body; may she cut off your limbs, may your life on earth be miserable before you. Do not direct your wickedness against the prophets and priests of Haroesis, the prophet Pechrodise, son of mistress of the house Qris."
    Sekhmet is captioned "Sekhmet, mistress of executioners' blocks, whose fire threatens all, the great". Set, not unusually, isn't directly named. He appears to have the head of an ass rather than the set-animal; Blok discusses the representation of Apophis as an ass, and also mentions the ass-faced, knife-wielding underworld demon I have inelegantly labelled face out donkey guy. Anywho, I'll have to have a proper crack at the German later. (I wonder what the significance of the lizard and, erm turtle? under his prison is?)

    Blok, H.P. Eine magische Stele aus der Spätzeit. Acta Orientalia 7,8, 1929, pp 7-112.


    Nov. 3rd, 2011 06:19 pm
    ikhet_sekhmet: (nebty)
    Here I am back from jury duty with a pile o' material about this moon / left eye business. But the first of my photocopies is about three different amulets, so, in typical random style, let me scribble my notes about the irrelevant one first. :)

    The author, Carol Andrews, discusses a therioanthropomorphic amulet at the BM (EA 57334) with, unusually, the head of a wild boar. For the Egyptians, the boar symbolises chaos and evil; Andrews argues that this is probably an amulet of Set, but might possibly be "the rare Libyan deity Ash, who presided over the western desert and vinegrowing areas of the Delta". Ash could be represented with Set's head, and his name could be ridden with the Set animal as a determinative.

    Now, as well as taking the form of ol' square-ears, Ash is (possibly) shown at least once in three-headed form - lion, snake, and vulture - not unlike the three-headed Mut, aka Sekhmet-Bast-Ra, of the Book of the Dead Chapter 164 - lioness, human, and vulture. (Margaret Murray makes an interesting connection between the three-headed Ash and a similar figure in the 1545 Cosmographia Universalis.)

    ETA: Also from Margaret Murray: Ash is shown with Set's head, wearing the white crown, and "associated with a royal vineyard", on Second Dynasty seals from Abydos and Naqada - specifically, the royal tombs of Perabsen and Kha-Sekhemui. He appears in human form as "Lord of Libya", with Amentet, in the Fifth Dynasty on a "sculptured slab of Sahure". He's also mentioned in the Pyramid Texts and the Book of the Dead. The last known attestation is the 26th Dynasty coffin which portrays him with three heads. Also unusual about 'Ash is his lack of a tail, the band across his chest, and the snake he carries in his hand.

    Murray remarks that "Multiple-headed gods are always rare in Egypt and are, I think, foreign deities and not indigenous." In his description of the coffin, Alan Shorter describes such "composite divinities" as cropping up "not unfrequently in reliefs and paintings of the later


    Andrews, Carol. "The Boar, the Ram-Headed Crocodile and the Lunar Fly". in Studies in Egyptian Antiquities: A Tribute to T.G.H. James (Occasional paper 123). London, British Museum, 1999. pp. 79 - 81.
    Murray, Margaret. The God 'Ash. Ancient Egypt and the East, December 1934 (volume 2), pp 115-117
    Shorter, Alan. A Possible Late Representation of the God 'Ash. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 11, No. 1/2 (Apr., 1925), pp. 78-79.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Well waddaya know. That neglected goddess, Nephthys, did have a cult, at least in one place - Dakhleh, where she and Set were worshipped as the Mistress and the Lord of the Oasis.

    A small statue of a goddess found at Deir el-Haggar temple, wrecked by robbers intent on getting the gilding off, was tentatively identified as Nephthys - which would be interesting, since it's labelled "Eye of Re". I'd thought that only a certain constellation of goddesses were given that title - Sekhmet, Mut, Hathor, etc - but now I'm curious as to just how many goddesses the title is attested for (and at what times).

    The statue's the earliest attestation for Seth-worship at Dakhleh, probably dating from the 21st Dynasty. In the oases, Seth was most commonly represented by the falcon rather than the Seth-animal - like the falcon-headed Seth spearing Apophis at Hibis, there's another spearing a scorpion at Ismant el-Kharab. All this contrasts with the rest of Egypt, where Seth's cult was generally suppressed after the Twentieth Dynasty.

    ETA: in Seth: God of Confusion, te Velde notes that at Deir el-Haggar, "Vespasian offers flowers to Set and Nephthys" (p 116) and also that "there seems to have been a chapel of Nephthys" in Set's temple in Sepermeru (p 131).
    Kaper, Olaf E. "The Statue of Penbast: on the Cult of Set in the Dakhleh Oasis". in van Dijk, Jacobus (ed). Essays on Ancient Egypt in Honour of Herman te Velde. Groningen, Styx, 1997.
    te Velde, H. Seth, God of Confusion: A Study of His Role in Egyptian Mythology and Religion. Brill, Leiden, 1977.


    Oct. 19th, 2010 07:17 pm
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Via [livejournal.com profile] ratmmjess: The Hohlenstein-Stadel Lion Man, "the oldest imaginary being in the world".

    On Flicker, a lion-headed Horus at Edfu.

    Photographer Joan Lansberry's site includes great snaps from the Brooklyn Museum, the Sekhmet head that hypnotised me during my own visit, and the Predynastic birdlike lady nicknamed "the Nile Goddess". Plus more Sekhmets at the Met and a whole page of Set.

    Striking gods from the Beltane Fire Society's Samhuinn 2009 celebration.

    BBC: Oldest evidence of arrows found
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    This book's available at Google Books!

    Shafer opens by describing the Egyptian's complicated and sophisticated concept of the divine, including the "identifications and interrelations" between the various gods. "It is not possible simply to label one deity a god of one thing and another the god of something else." (p 7) Egyptian religious ideas were "fluid", always evolving, with no single "sacred book" (p 12). (Having grown up with kid's books which always gave the Heliopolitan cosmogony - that is, Osiris' family tree - I've been surprised to learn how many different creation stories they Egyptians had.)

    Similarly, their gods were more fluid in their roles than the gods of Greece and Rome (p 23). For example, Set was a fratricide, Re's ally against Apophis, Horus's enemy, and then Horus's former enemy; he was esteemed in the Early Dynastic Period, and again in Ramesside Period (p 40-1), representing "the brute force and destructiveness that exist within creation", rather than the uncreated chaos outside it; but in the first millenium BCE Seth began to be seen as an enemy (p 124).

    The interrelationships between gods were also complex. Shafer mentions familiar triads like Amun, Mut, and Khonsu at Thebes, but also notes that Hathor of Denderah was the consort of Horus of Edfu, even though each god "inhabited" their own temple (p 41).

    A few quick notes. Seshat was Thoth's consort, and they were portrayed together in coronation scenes (p 42). Ma'at, unlike any of the gods other than the Aten, was "tolerated" thoughout the Amarna period (p 82). There are two records from the New Kingdom in which Hathor appeared to people in their dreams (p 172), one of which inspired the location of a man's tomb (p 185).

    More notes to come, on sacred animals, personal piety, and theodicy.
    Shafer, Byron E. (ed). Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice. Cornell University Press, Ithaca NY, 2001.


    Jul. 4th, 2006 10:51 pm
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    This journal's about goddesses, but I've been curious about the Ancient Egyptian god Set (aka Seth, Setekh, Sutekh), the god of storms, the desert, and foreign countries. Set is the murderer of Osiris and enemy of Horus, yet also stands alongside Horus in the prow of the solar barque, the boat that carries the sun-god Ra, fighting the serpent Apophis who's trying to end the world. At times he was an outcast - even identified with Apophis - but at other times an important state god. He could even be united with Horus and worshipped as "he with the two faces". How can a god of evil also be an ally of good?

    Read more... )

    Morenz, Seigfried. Egyptian Religion. Methuen, London, 1973.
    Sauneron, Serge. The Priests of Ancient Egypt. Cornell UP, Ithaca, 2000.
    te Velde, H. Seth, God of Confusion: A Study of His Role in Egyptian Mythology and Religion. Brill, Leiden, 1977.


    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Plaything of Sekhmet

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