Mehet-Weret

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Mehet-Weret
Mehet-Weret
Mehet-WeretMehet-WeretMehet-Weret
Mehetweret [1]
in hieroglyphs
Mehet-Weret from the tomb of Tutankhamun Mehetueret02.jpg
Mehet-Weret from the tomb of Tutankhamun

Mehet-Weret or Mehturt (Ancient Egyptian : mḥt-wrt) is an ancient Egyptian deity of the sky in ancient Egyptian religion. Her name means "Great Flood".

Ancient Egyptian deities gods and goddesses worshipped in ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian deities are the gods and goddesses worshipped in ancient Egypt. The beliefs and rituals surrounding these gods formed the core of ancient Egyptian religion, which emerged sometime in prehistory. Deities represented natural forces and phenomena, and the Egyptians supported and appeased them through offerings and rituals so that these forces would continue to function according to maat, or divine order. After the founding of the Egyptian state around 3100 BC, the authority to perform these tasks was controlled by the pharaoh, who claimed to be the gods' representative and managed the temples where the rituals were carried out.

Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals that formed an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians' interaction with many deities believed to be present in, and in control of, the world. Rituals such as prayer and offerings were provided to the gods to gain their favor. Formal religious practice centered on the pharaohs, the rulers of Egypt, believed to possess a divine power by virtue of their position. They acted as intermediaries between their people and the gods, and were obligated to sustain the gods through rituals and offerings so that they could maintain Ma'at, the order of the cosmos. The state dedicated enormous resources to religious rituals and to the construction of temples.

Contents

She was mentioned in the Pyramid Texts. In ancient Egyptian creation myths, she gives birth to the sun at the beginning of time, and in art she is portrayed as a cow with a sun disk between her horns. She is associated with the goddesses Neith, Hathor, and Isis, all of whom have similar characteristics, and like them she could be called the "Eye of Ra". [2]

Pyramid Texts literary work

The Pyramid Texts are the oldest known corpus of ancient Egyptian religious texts dating to the Old Kingdom. Written in Old Egyptian, the pyramid texts were carved onto the subterranean walls and sarcophagi of pyramids at Saqqara from the end of the Fifth Dynasty, and throughout the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, and into the Eighth Dynasty of the First Intermediate Period.

Ancient Egyptian creation myths ancient Egyptian accounts of the creation of the world

Ancient Egyptian creation myths are the ancient Egyptian accounts of the creation of the world. The Pyramid Texts, tomb wall decorations and writings, dating back to the Old Kingdom have given us most of our information regarding early Egyptian creation myths. These myths also form the earliest religious compilations in the world. The ancient Egyptians had many creator gods and associated legends. Thus the world or more specifically Egypt was created in diverse ways according to different parts of the country.

Art of ancient Egypt Art produced by the Ancient Egyptian civilization

Ancient Egyptian art refers to paintings, sculptures, architecture, and other arts produced in ancient Egypt between the 31st century BC and the 4th century AD. It is very conservative; Egyptian styles changed remarkably little over time. Much of the surviving art comes from tombs and monuments, which have given more insight on the Egyptians' belief of the afterlife. This has caused a greater focus on preserving the knowledge of the past. Wall art was not produced for people to look at but it had a purpose in the afterlife and in rituals.

Mehet-Weret is primarily known as being the “Celestial Cow” or “Cow Goddess” because of her physical characteristics, but she contributes to the world in more ways than that. She is also the Goddess of Water, Creation, and Rebirth; in Egyptian mythology, Mehet-Weret is one of the main components in the making and survival of life. [3]

Origin

Mehet-Weret was responsible for raising the sun into the sky every day. She produced the light for the crops of those who worshipped her, and she also caused the annual Nile River flood that fertilized the crops with water. [4] In Patricia Monaghan's The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, she describes Mehet-Weret as the Goddess of Creation because she gives birth to the sun every day, creating life for all those who worship her. [5]

Patricia Monaghan American writer

Patricia Monaghan was a poet, a writer, a spiritual activist, and an influential figure in the contemporary women's spirituality movement. Monaghan wrote over 20 books on a range of topics including Goddess spirituality, earth spirituality, Celtic mythology, the landscape of Ireland, and techniques of meditation. In 1979, she published the first encyclopedia of female divinities, a book which has remained steadily in print since then and was republished in 2009 in a two volume set as The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines. She was a mentor to many scholars and writers including biologist Cristina Eisenberg, poet Annie Finch, theologian Charlene Spretnak, and anthropologist Dawn Work-MaKinne, and was the founding member of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology, which brought together artists, scholars, and researchers of women-centered mythology and Goddess spirituality for the first time in a national academic organization.

In Egyptian mythology, Mehet-Weret was known as the Goddess of Water and Creation, but Geraldine Pinch also introduces the idea that she was a piece of the nighttime sky. She is referenced as being the river of stars known as the Milky Way, because of her physical traits of being the responsible for the annual flood of the Nile River. [6]

Milky Way Spiral galaxy containing our Solar System

The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the Solar System, with the name describing the galaxy's appearance from Earth: a hazy band of light seen in the night sky formed from stars that cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye. The term Milky Way is a translation of the Latin via lactea, from the Greek γαλαξίας κύκλος. From Earth, the Milky Way appears as a band because its disk-shaped structure is viewed from its outer rim. Galileo Galilei first resolved the band of light into individual stars with his telescope in 1610. Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe. Following the 1920 Great Debate between the astronomers Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, observations by Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies.

Birthing Ra

Mehet-Weret is described as being the mother of Ra, the ancient Egyptian solar deity. As the Goddess of Creation, she gives birth to the sun every day and is the reason the world isn’t in the dark. In her physical description, she is described as having a sun disk between her horns; in typical motherly fashion, she protects her son Ra and keeps him close to her. [3]

Ra ancient Egyptian solar deity

Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian deity of the sun. By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries BC, he had become one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun. Ra was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the Earth, and the underworld. He was the god of the sun, order, kings, and the sky.

Physical description

Mehet-Weret is described as having a woman’s body with a cow’s head, and as such, is sometime called the Cow Goddess. A sun disk lies between the horns on her head, which connects her to the creation of the sun. [3]

Sarcophagus of Khonsu

Mehet-Weret is featured on the sarcophagus of Khonsu. The hieroglyphics painted on the outside of the sarcophagus are yet another way to protect the deceased; they are used to paint a journey to the afterlife for the pharaoh. Even in hieroglyphics, Mehet-Weret is dressed in many ritual artifacts as a way to keep her goddess-like standing. The picture features a human bowing and adoring her; this was meant as a way to signify her importance as a divine being. In this picture, Mehet-Weret signifies that after his death, the pharaoh will be reborn into the afterlife. [7]

Relationships

Hathor

“Myth of the Heavenly Cow” by Nadine Guilhou tells the story of a separate goddess that is related to Mehet-Weret who is named Hathor. Hathor is seen as more troublesome than Mehet-Weret, because she creates chaos in the human world. The title of the story of the “Myth of the Heavenly Cow” is also known as “The Destruction of Mankind” because Hathor was sent to kill the rebels who acted against the sun god Ra and his plans to rearrange the cosmos. While Hathor is the bloodthirsty warrior cow, focused on the destruction of humankind, Mehet-Weret is responsible for creating some of the most basic needs for humankind: sun and water. [8]

Death and afterlife

The goddess Mehet-Weret was featured in a number of spells in The Book of the Dead, including spell 17. In this spell she was credited for the birth of Re, also known as the Sun God Ra. But she is also the one who protects Re, because it was believed by the ancient people of Egypt that the sun died every day and was reborn by Mehet-Weret. She was responsible for taking him into the underworld, or night because of the darkness, and then bringing him back to the world the next day, almost as if in the afterlife. The people of Egypt believed that Mehet-Weret was the Goddess of Creation and Rebirth, so she was featured in one of the spells to help the humans make their way into the afterlife. The Book of the Dead is an important text in the Egyptian culture because it allows the audience to understand the different journeys that the ancient Egyptians believed in to get to the afterlife. [9]

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References

  1. Wörterbuch, II, p.122
  2. Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003). The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. p. 174
  3. 1 2 3 Seawright, Caroline. “Mehet-Weret, Ancient Egyptian Goddess of Creation.” Egyptology & Archaeology Essays, November 16, 2003. http://www.thekeep.org/~kunoichi/kunoichi/themestream/mehetweret.html#.VAuIjfldWSo.
  4. what?.Missing or empty |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. Monaghan, Patricia. Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines [2 Volumes]. ABC-CLIO, 2009.
  6. Pinch, Geraldine. Handbook of Egyptian Mythology. ABC-CLIO, 2002.
  7. “Meht-Urt GreatFlood.” Accessed September 6, 2014. http://www.bibleorigins.net/Meht-urtGreatFlood.html.
  8. Guilhou, Nadine. “Myth of the Heavenly Cow.” UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology 1, no. 1 (August 12, 2010). http://escholarship.org/uc/item/2vh551hn.
  9. Budge, E. A. Wallis. The Egyptian Book of the Dead Index Accessed September 15, 2014. http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/ebod/.