Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The First Egyptian God of Writing was a Goddess

I'm fascinated by the fact so many Egyptian male gods have female counterparts--all except Ra (or Re). Ra, supposedly, created the world by, um....making himself happy. No woman involved.

Still, many of the other lesser gods have both male and female representatives (Osiris, Isis; Set, Nepthys; Geb, Nut; etc.).

I'm always delighted to discover less well-known goddesses in the Egyptian pantheon. Did you know, for example, that Anubis, the jackal-headed God of Embalming, has a wife (Anit) and a daughter? The pair kept the ka/mummy company while the body was being preserved and the heart was being prepared for Anubis's test against the Feather of Truth (ma'at).

Recently, I discovered that the god of wisdom, Thoth, also had a female counterpart--Seshat. She has been described as both wife and daughter. She may have even come before Thoth, though was later supplanted by him. In the Fourth Dynasty, the head scribe was identified as head priest of her temple.

Supposedly, Seshat invented writing, while Thoth taught it to the Egyptians. She was the top female scribe (implying that some women were also scribes--will have to check on that), as well as historian, architect to the gods.

Who knew?

In many depections, she is stretching the cord that controls the lifespan of the pharaoh. Kind of reminds me of the Fates in Greeks myths who cut the strings of life when it's your time to kick the bucket.

I also love that Amut the Destroyer, the crocodile-headed monster with a penchant for gobbling heavy-hearts, is also female.  She is awesome.

Meanwhile, I now have a new patron Goddess of writing--Seshat! 


Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Go Seshat!!! :)

Gail Strickland said...

Did you know that the admiral of the invading Persian navy 5th century appointed by King Xerxes was a woman named Artemis?

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

I did, Gail. Artemisia was amazing! Hmmm...maybe there's a book in there!