Posts Tagged ‘aset’
Qebshenef is one of the Four Sons of Heru (Horus), a group of netjeri (spirits) associated with the canopic jars that hold the organs of the mummified deceased. The Four Sons also protect the throne of Wesir (Osiris) in the Unseen and assist the deceased through the Duat. Each of the Sons is protected by one of the funerary goddesses and associated with one of the cardinal directions.
Qebshenef, whose name means “cooling his brother (with water),” is hawk-headed and holds the intestines. He is guarded by Serqet (Selkis), the scorpion goddess, and associated with the south.
Imset, whose name means “the kindly one,” is human-headed and wears the nemes headcloth. He holds the liver, is guarded by Aset (Isis), and is associated with the west.
Duamutef, whose name means “praising his mother,” is jackal-headed and holds the stomach. He is guarded by Nit (Neith), the Great He-She, and associated with the north.
Hapy (not Hapi, god of the Nile), whose name means “runner,” is baboon-headed and holds the lungs. He is guarded by Nebt-het (Nephthys) and associated with the east.
While the Four Sons have the above associations in regards to their canopic jars, they also assist the deceased in different ways, including carrying or lifting up the deceased, preparing a ladder into the sky, protecting against attacks and decay, preventing hunger and thirst, bringing the deceased a boat “which Khnum built,” and steering that boat.
The Sons themselves are alternatingly stated to be sons of Aset (Isis) and Heru-wer (Horus the Elder) or Khenty-irty (Horus of Khem), but were also implied to be sons of Heru-sa-Aset (Horus the Younger) by virtue of being the grandchildren of Wesir (Osiris). They’ve also been described as the bau (souls) of Pe (a city in Lower Egypt) and Nekhen (a city in Upper Egypt), along with Heru Himself. In various texts, they’re identified as stars near Ursa Major, as emanations of Heru or as Heru’s bau (souls), and as the king’s “children’s children” (the king being as Wesir, Heru’s own father). They’ve also been identified in spells as the hands, arms, fingernails, and/or feet of the deceased or described accompanying the deceased through the Duat.
Henadology’s article is particularly well-fleshed-out and worth further reading, as my entry here merely summarizes the basics of the Four Sons.
From A.G. McDowell’s Village Life in Ancient Egypt, a spell to drive away nightmares:
Dreamer: “Come to me, come to me, mother Isis! Behold, I see that which is far from me in my city!”
Aset (Isis): “I am here, my son Horus! Come out with what you have seen so that your dumbness ceases and your dreams retreat. May fire come out against the thing that frightened you! Behold, I have come to see you, that I might drive out your evil, that I might destroy every harm.”
Birds served a variety of roles in Egyptian mythology; the Nile valley was rife with all sizes and shapes of wings. Flocks of migratory birds could lay waste to fields and orchards, consuming the crops, so netting swarms of birds in art or act could be symbolic of ma’at (rightness) conquering isfet (uncreation) or of ancient Egyptians defeating foreign invaders. Depictions of imprisoned enemies at Kom Ombo included captured flocks, and the swallow was a hieroglyph frequently used to write the names of undesirable things.
But Kemetic myths are also populated with solar hawks, maternal vultures, a wise ibis, and a great goose Who brought the world into being. The eternal soul, the ba, is shown as a human-headed bird. And, far from least, is the subject of today’s post: kites and the goddesses Who took on their form, Nebt-het (Nephthys) and Aset (Isis).
Nebt-het (left) and Aset (right)
Red kites, which are my best guess at the particular species of kite that Nebt-het and Aset are depicted as, are medium-sized raptors with forked tails and an amiability to both live prey (from rabbits to earthworms) and carrion. They have a high, thin cry, which relate them neatly to Nebt-het and Aset when They were mourning Wesir (Osiris), the dead god. In searching out Wesir’s body after He was killed, Aset was the one Who sought, and Nebt-het was the one Who found, aloft on swift wings with long-reaching eyes.
So kites became symbols of grief, of loss—and of finding again. Wesir rose up when Nebt-het and Aset recovered His body and restored His limbs, and though He was never “alive” again, not like the rest of the Netjeru, He was not wholly undone and vanquished. Kites, with their shrill calls, took in both living and dead sustenance to survive, and so Nebt-het and Aset are Netjeru with a hand extended towards Their dead lord and the blessed dead that He caretakes… and a hand extended towards the living gods and we living mortals.
- Egyptian Mythology (Geraldine Pinch)
- Nebt-het: Lady of the House (Tamara Siuda)
Last year’s first K post was on Khepri, Khepera, Kheperu.
Today is Aset’s birthday, the fourth of the epagomenal days, five days that fall between the end of the Kemetic year and Wep Ronpet, the Kemetic New Year on August 3rd.
Hail to the Shining Daughter of Stars,
radiant queen upon Her throne,
most devoted mother over Her children.
May You bless this coming year
as You blessed Your son with Your heka;
protect and balm this year as You did Him.
Pure blue as the field of the sunlit sky,
as clever as He Who won this day from the moon,
Dua Aset, Great of Magic!
In Aset’s honor, a sigil for fulfilling: rising to fill the space in which you choose to stand, and to fill the role you choose to take.
may You align
all mothers’ hearts and hands
to their children’s highest good
and may no one
in Your name.
(yes, that includes
that bite the sun god.
shed Your cool light
which is as starlight on fresh snow
on the lives of those
who need You as mother
and guide them
as You did Your own son.
(even with the scorpions.
i know their stings
when they do not destroy.)
may Your love be known,
as pure emotion, not just