PBP Fridays: G is for Genderqueer and GLBTQ Netjeru

PBP Fridays: G is for Genderqueer and GLBTQ Netjeru

As a genderfunky and pansexual individual myself, I have a special interest in mythological figures who are also queer in some fashion. To my pleasant surprise, we have several Egyptian gods, or Netjeru, Who have some queerness in Them. This post is meant to be a brief introductions to the ones I know.

Firstly, we have Nit, the Creatrix. Of the handful of primary creator deities in ancient Egypt, Nit was the only one said to be female, but all creator deities are to some extent genderfluid and/or genderless, being gods that have reproduced asexually through various means (masturbation, spit, intentional thought) to create the rest of the gods. Nit Herself, despite being hailed as a goddess, bears the epithet “The Mother and Father of All Things” and has been addressed as “Male Who made female; Female Who made male” at the temples of Esna. She is the God Who bore women and the Goddess Who bore men, and so within Herself contains all sexes, all genders. Nit is said to have created childbirth, and, when referred to as a creatrix, Her name is written with the hieroglyph of an ejaculating phallus. She has been referred to as the deity of the Nun (pronounced noon), the great primordial waters of creation, or as the Nun personified. Another snippet from the Esna inscription reads:

Wide water Who created eternity; water Who made everlastingness;
Who rose in Nun while earth was in darkness.
Living Ancestor, Who had Her origins in Nun, before the creation of Geb and the raising of Nut.
Genetrix, Cobra Who was at the beginning, Mother of time primordial, She Who created Her own birth…

(Geb is the god of the earth; Nut is the goddess of the sky.) For more about Nit, you can read the research I’ve compiled thus far.

Nit has also been identified with/as Nebt-het (Nephthys), Lady of Death. In ancient texts, Nebt-het has been described as being “an imitation woman with no vagina” because of Her barrenness, and She has no children with Her husband, Set, Lord of the Red Desert, which is a striking difference from most Kemetic triads of mother-father-child. Some modern Egyptologists have interpreted Nebt-het as being a lesbian; more to the point, She is sekhyt, a Kemetic word often translated as “eunuch” but more accurately indicates any person who doesn’t fit within the traditional gender roles of male or female, any person who is infertile, and/or a sexless/unsexed person.

That leads us to Nebt-het’s husband and consort, Set, God of Chaos. Set is a highly sexual god; He’s been lured off after Aset (Isis) in guise of a beautiful maiden before, and He’s also tried to seduce Heru-sa-Aset (Horus the Younger), both during the Contendings of Horus and Set, which is the tale of Who would become king after Wesir’s (Osiris’) death. Heru-sa-Aset, in turn, tricked Set into consuming some of His semen on lettuce, also as a part of the Contendings myth. Some Egyptologists suggest Set is strictly homosexual, but He would also be more suited to the term sekhyt, as He’s often considered sterile due to His association with the barren desert, over which He rules. Heru-sa-Aset may or may not be considered bisexual or sekhyt, depending on the source; He does go on to father the four Sons of Heru, showing that He is indeed fertile, but His actions with Set may suggest a bisexual inclination (or just an attempt to gain a political upper hand).

In addition, Hapi, god of the Nile, was a male deity associated with the fertility and life-giving powers of the Nile river; as a result, He was shown as a round-bellied man with full breasts. The breasts may have been symbolic, or He may have been considered a fully hermaphroditic deity, though He did still have a wife.

Fertility was a big deal in ancient Egypt and was the primary requisite for a person receiving the full privileges of womanhood or manhood, but even in the biggest myths, genderbending and alternate sexualities were represented; there’ve also been inscriptions in tombs indicating homosexual relations between men. (I don’t know of any between women; if you do, please share!) Set and Nebt-het, both important deities in Kemet, were sekhyt Netjeru, and all creator deities, especially Nit, held within Them both male and female qualities. If I’ve missed any queer Egyptian gods, please feel free to chime in, or add your opinions/experience with the gods mentioned here!

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.