ikhet_sekhmet: (lioness)
A footnote in Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven gives a list of "almost forty [Egyptian] goddesses with leonine associations". Using the footnote's spelling, they are:

Matit ("The Dismemberer")
Mehit ("The Seizer")
Pakhet ("The Mangler")
the lioness of Athribis

Blimey, I've never even heard of some of those! What a find! Hmm, I count 34, and I think some of those might be the same goddess with different names. OTOH, there's one missing - Henut-Mestjet or Mestjet (known from just one stela). ETA: And another - the goddess Ai!

("Leonine associations" is a bit vague. Many of these goddesses are routinely represented as a lioness-headed woman - but what's the connection for the others?)

I'll add more stuff to this posting as I go along:
  • Djedet is "a protective goddess" in The Book of Traversing Eternity, although not in a liony way.

  • Geraldine Pinch notes that "Hathor, Lady of Mefkat... appears in lioness-headed form on a stela from Serabit el-Khadim."

  • Another addition: Seret is attested by an inscription on a 5th Dynasty statue. (Note to self: Le Role et le Sens p 386; Reallexikon der Religionsgeschichte p 199, Fisher 200.932 2 )

  • Here's Matit in the Lexikon. She was worshipped alongside the falcon deity Anty at Deir el Gebrawi in the Twelfth Nome of Upper Egypt. Here she is in Constant de Wit's Le Role Et Le Sens Du Lion Dans Legypte Ancienne. She had a male counterpart, the god Mati.

  • Wepset appears in the Coffin Texts (CT I, 376/7a-380/1a), in which fire is given "several different names, including Wepset and w3w3.t-flame." (Willems 1996.) She is the Eye of the Sun and the Distant Goddess ("Wawat" is Lower Nubia). "Shu is regularly identified with Onuris" and in this spell Shu is said to "extinguish the flame, to cool Wepset and extinguish the w3w3.t-flame which dispels the mourning of the gods." Willems also notes that a female w3w3.t-flame, personifying "the burning poison in a person's body" is cooled "in a magical text on the Socle Béhague (h25-26)". (p 317)

  • Seems like a reasonable place to throw in these snippets from The Life of Meresamun: "The multiple flexible strands of the menat are represented as a broad collar with falcon terminals around the neck of a female deity, most commonly Hathor but sometimes also Isis or the feline-form goddesses Tefnut, Sekhmet, Menhit, and Bastet." (p 37) "Among deities, Hathor, Mut, Sekhmet, and Tefnut are shown wearing them and, for unknown reasons, the menat was the characteristic emblem of the male god Khonsu." (p 39) Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven notes that lioness-headed goddesses "are known in relief as early as the Old Kingdom and in three dimensions from the New Kingdom." (p 138)

  • A statue of Prince Hetep-Seshat and his missus lists amongst his titles "prophet of Khentichemi [Khenti-kheti?], prophet of Banebdjedet, prophet of Horus and Seth... prophet of Bastet, prophet of Shesemtet." He was a busy lad.

  • Aperet-Isis formed a triad at Akhmim with Min and Kolanthes. (ETA: Aha! Henadology reports that Arepet-Isis is actually an epithet of Repyt.)

  • Isis was depicted with a lioness head on Sidonian amulets.

Capel, Anne K. and Glenn E. Markoe. Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: women in ancient Egypt. New York, Hudson Hills Press in association with Cincinnati Art Museum, 1996.

Pinch, Geraldine. Votive Offerings to Hathor. Oxford, Griffith Institute, 1993.

Teeter, Emily and Janet H. Johnson (eds). The Life of Meresamun : a temple singer in ancient Egypt. Chicago, Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2009.

Willems, Harco. The Coffin of Heqata (Cairo JdE 36418) (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 70). Peeters Publishers and Department of Oriental Studies, Leuven, Belgium, 1996.


Jun. 26th, 2011 04:19 pm
ikhet_sekhmet: (lioness)
And here's a catch-all for Mafdet. :) To start off with:
  • Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1973-80.
    Pyramid Texts, Utterance 295: "Mafdet leaps at the neck of the in-di.f-snake, she does it again at the neck of the serpent with raised head. Who is he who will survive? It is I who will survive." (Footnote: "Mafdet here appears in the role of a mongoose.")

    Pyramid Texts, Utterance 297: "My hand has come upon you, the avenger (?) is this which has come upon you, (even) Mafdet, pre-eminent in the Mansion of Life; she strikes you on your face, she scratches you on your eyes, so that you fall into your faeces and crawl into your urine. Fall! Lie down! Crawl away, for your mother Nut sees you!"

    Pyramid Texts, Utterance 298: "Re arises, his uraeus is upon him, against this snake which came forth from the earth and which is under my fingers. He will cut off your (sic) head with this knife which is in the hand of Mafdet who dwells in the Mansion of Life. He will draw out those things which are in your mouth [the snake's poison fangs], he will draw off your poison with these four cords which belong to the sandals of Osiris. O monster, lie down! O bull, crawl away!"
  • Willems, Harco. The coffin of Heqata. Leuven, Uitgeverij Peeters en Departement Orie╠łntalistiek, 1996.
    Mafdet was "closely associated with the scorpion goddess Hededet", who replaces Mafdet in variant Coffin Texts from Meir. (p 440, n. bq)

  • Sederholm, Val Hinckley. Papyrus British Museum 10808 and its Cultural and Religious Setting. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2006.
    Mafdet appears in Spell Ten of the Ritual of Repelling Evil (which IIUC is found on two papyri from the NK), where she is called "Flaming-faced entity before the horizon, Mafdet, Piercer of Darkness". (In later copies of the spell she has become a "he-cat" who merely "gazes into darkness" - similarly, in the Coffin Texts, Pakhet is "the lioness who sees by night".) Sederholm writes, "we glimpse one Mafdet in shadow, another in streaming light. Without visible form she ranges her pre-dawn haunt. When she turns to face the horizon there gleam out two enkindling eyes... then comes the piercing attack of blazing eyes and claws as the panther leaps upward to grasp her celestial and transcendent form - rushing before the sun." Wow!

    In Papyrus 10808, Horus the Behedite and his speckled plumage is mentioned straight after Mafdet; Sederholm speculates that Mafdet may be a similarly spotted cheetah or even a cheetah-hawk griffin. Similarly, in the Ramesseum Dramatic Papyrus, Horus offers a blessing to Osiris: "May Mafdet unite your limbs with their body"; and Horus is compared to Mafdet at Edfu.

Some links, parked here for later reference:

Mafdet at Henadology

Stone Vessels inscriptions of Egyptian Early Dynastic Kings

Etymological dictionary of Egyptian

Forum discussion with references

Pharaonic Egypt


Mar. 29th, 2010 02:24 pm
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
The "Holy One" - serious article from a neo-Pagan journal about the identity of the goddess Qudshu; good pictures and bibliography.

The Edfu Project - "a freely accessible online library of monographs, articles, and manuscripts on material about the Edfu district".

The Dawn of Civilization: Writing, Urban Life, and Warfare - December 2009 Discover magazine article about Tell Brak in Syria. Also from the magazine: World's First Grain Silos Discovered at Dhra in Jordan, and Oldest Musical Instrument Found, a bone flute from Hohle Fels. And lots more in the Preghistoric Culture section.

Maat-Ka-Re Hatshepsut includes maps, photos and info from the maintainer's visits to Egyptian sites, including Speos Artemidos and the Temple of Mut.

ETA: Computers unlock more secrets of the mysterious Indus Valley script, University of Washington News, August 2009

Finally, via [livejournal.com profile] tysolna:

ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
"All the great gods and goddesses, as well as some of their less well-known divine colleagues, appear as amulets. Thus among lion-headed figures are found not only Sekhmet, Bastet and Wadjyt but Pakhet and Mehyt and the fierce god Mahes." (p 12)

"The problem is that the Egyptians believed most of their gods were able to manifest themselves in animal form, but there were not enough types of animal to suffice. Thus any one species might represent a number of different gods... Sekhmet, Tefnut, Mehyt, Pakhet and Bastet, even Wadjyt, might all appear as an amulet of a lion-headed woman." (p 14)

Cat-shaped amulets, representing Bastet, were most popular in the Third Intermediate Period. (p 12)

Andrews, Carol. Amulets of Ancient Egypt. British Museum Press, London, 1994.
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Complete Gods and Goddesses has an entire section on cat and lioness deities! Alongside the familiar ones like Mahes and Pakhet, there are gods I've never even heard of: the sphinx earth god Aker, Apedamak, Mekhit, Menhyt, Mestjet, the twin lions called Ruty, Seret, Shesmetet, and Tutu.

Read more... )

Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, London, 2003.
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Just a few snippets.

Quirke says that Bastet "originally took leonine form, until the first millennium BC when she was shown instead as a cat".

"Tefnut... took the leonine form, and appeared in a late version of the story as the goddess-eye who had to be coaxed back to Ra from Nubia... The goddess Mut, consort of Amun in the New Kingdom and later, drew on the imagery of both vulture and lioness, but stood more often as a woman, as did Hathor when representing human sexual love." Quirke notes it was Thoth who brought Tefnut home. Wadjyt, more familiar as a cobra, could also be represented as a lioness.

Later in the book he mentions "Pakhet, 'the scratcher', who took the role of raging leonine goddess at the limestone quarries in the desert valley south-east of Bani Hasan in Middle Egypt, and Maihesa, 'the wild lion', worshipped as son of the lenoine goddesses Bast and Sekhmet in the Delta cities Bubastis and Taremu (rendered Leontopolis, 'city of the lion', by the Greeks."

Quirke, Stephen. Ancient Egyptian Religion. New York : Dover, 1997.
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Just a jumble of bits and pieces from Egyptian Religion by Siegfried Morenz, to which I need to give a proper read.

Morenz suggests that the name "Sekhmet", which just means "Powerful One", might have been a taboo name - that is, a title used instead of the goddess' real name. He gives various examples from other religions, and that there were taboo names for magical parts of the body, but concedes that there's no conclusive evidence. (He translates Pakhet's name as "the Rapacious One".)

Morenz describes how local gods became specialised as they were more widely worshipped: "At first the deity appeared to his [sic] worshippers in all his vital power, but later he was regarded by a larger circle of believers reduced to a lesser form, so to speak, with his functions restricted. In other words, to begin with God means everything to a small group, but later comes to mean part of a greater whole to a larger number of faithful... the particular type of specialization was determined by the specific features of the deity concerned..." So, he says, Sekhmet the lioness became a war-goddess.

Discussing the tendency of Egyptian deities to combine into trinities, such as Ptah-Sokaris-Osiris, Morenz notes that even foreign deities could be linked in this way by the Egyptians, such as the Syrian goddesses combined as Kadesh-Astarte-Anath. Foreign deities such as these were worshipped in Egypt during the New Kingdom, and absorbed into state religion. "Ishtar of Syria" (Ishtar of Mittani), was prayed to for healing, and the image of Ishtar of Nineveh was sent to visit Amenophis III in hopes of healing him. The deities of conquered lands were absorbed into state religion.

"...in Samos a bronze cat of Egyptian origin was dedicated to Hera although the cat has no relation to this deity; this was no doubt done because it was associated with the Egyptian god analogous to Hera: Mut, the consort of Amon, who was equated with the cat Bastet." (p 245)

Morenz, Siegfried. Egyptian Religion. Methuen, London, 1973.
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
For your interest: I came across a Web page on an Egyptian temple of the lion-headed goddess Pakhet, with info and pictures.
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
This chapter opens with a discussion of early representations of gods as animals and "fetishes, such as objects on carrying poles. To the earliest Egyptians, argues Hornung, animals seemed "to be the most powerful and efficacious beings, far superior to men in all their capacities". As human beings gained "a new self-awareness" in historical times, deities became more human in appearance.

Hornung makes an interesting point that gods represented without limbs aren't being depicted as mummies, since they were shown that way long before mummification was practiced; throughout the book he refers to gods such as Ptah as being depicted "without indication of the limbs" rather than as mummies.

This chapter deals with something I've been curious about for a while - the depiction of Egyptian gods with animal heads, and whether this was symbolic or metaphorical, or the god's "true" form. Hornung points out, for example, that the same god can be depicted in multiple ways, giving Hathor as an example - she may be depicted as a human woman with a headdress of cow horns and a sun disc; as a cow; a cow's head with a human face; and sometimes as a woman with a cow's head, amongst other forms. "We should not, therefore, assume that the Egyptians imagined Hathor as a woman with a cow's head. It is more plausible to see the cow as one possible manifestation of Hathor, and the cow's head and cow's horns as attributes that allude to a manifestation of the goddess or part of her nature... Any iconography can be no more than an attempt to indicate something of her complex nature." In other cases the deity carries their attribute, or it appears as a hieroglyph on their head, as with Isis' throne or Geb's goose, like a sort of caption. For the Egyptians the true forms of the gods were "hidden", "mysterious".

I've finished reading the book, but the remainder of these summaries will need to wait until after our overseas trip. In the meantime, though, here are a couple of thealogical snippets:

"In the cult wine is used for the ritual assuaging of deities, especially goddesses in lioness form." (p 205)

[Discussing the way in which multiple deities are called "king of the gods"] "... even the lioness Pakhet, who is worshipped in the vicinity of Beni Hasan as both a dangerous and a helpful local deity, is given the title 'chief (h.rjt) of all the gods' on a scarab in the Groppi collection; her elevation may be related to her importance in funerary beliefs from the time of the Coffin Texts, and later at the royal court of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth dynasties." (p 234)


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Plaything of Sekhmet

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