God Bios: Nit (Neith)

God Bios: Nit (Neith)

My lady Nit, please accept my humblest of apologies that I did not celebrate Your festival yesterday. May the research I do on You now be an offering, however small.

Please note, lovely readers: All of this is a work-in-progress. It will change as I continue digging through books and other sources. Do not take this as a rock-solid encyclopedic entry at any point. :) I will be doing similar information-compilations on other deities in my sphere of interest, as well; Nit just happens to be first.

attributes

– war
— makes warriors’ weapons
— protects dead bodies
— weaves the bandages and shrouds worn by mummies
— protects jackal-headed Duamutef (one of the Four Sons of Heru Who guards the canopic jar that stores the stomach) with arrows
— Eye of Ra
– hunting
– weaving
— great creatrix
— protector of women
— guardian of marriage
— weaves the bandages and shrouds worn by mummies
– the primordial waters of creation (Nun)
— great creatrix
— genderless / he-she
— associated with the Nile perch/lates-fish
— mother of crocodiles and snakes
– wisdom
– virgin goddess
— great creatrix
— created childbirth

forms

– human wearing the red crown, a weaver’s shuttle on Her head, or two arrows crossed over a shield
– lioness-headed
– crocodile-headed
– snake
– cow

symbols

– two crossed arrows over a shield (possibly originally a click beetle, found near water)
– Her symbol and part of Her hieroglyph resembles a loom
– Egyptian goad (cow prod)
– red crown of Lower Egypt
– when referred to as creatrix, Her name is written with the hieroglyph of an ejaculating phallus

relationships

– mother of Ra
– mother of Ap-p (by spitting into the Nun)
– mother of Sobek
– wife of Khnum
– wife of Set (Old Kingdom)
– wife of Sobek (after Set)
– mother of Twtw
– may be identified with Tanit, a goddess worshipped in north Africa by Berbers (Barbary…)
— Tanit is related to Astarte/Ishtar (Phoenician)
– assimilated Anouke (Asia Minor, worshipped by immigrants to Egypt)
– identified with Athena
– identified with Nebt-het and Seshat
– equated with Nunet
– associated with other cow deities, primarily Nut and Hethert
– associated with other weaving deities, primarily Tatet
– associated with Yinepu and Wepwawet (“Opener of the Ways”)
– equated with Mehet-Weret, the Great Flood

epithets

– Who Illuminated The First Face
– Mistress of the Bow
– Ruler of Arrows
– Great Cow Who Gave Birth to Ra
– She Who Saw Tem’s Birth
– Nit the Great
– Nurse of Crocodiles
– Opener of the Ways
– The Mother and Father of All Things
– The Eldest
– Mother of the Gods
– Mistress of Mendes

notes

– A great festival, called the Feast of Lamps, was held annually in her honor and, according to Herodotus, her devotees burned a multitude of lights in the open air all night during the celebration.
– Primary cult in Sais with Twtw and Tapsais.
– One of three tutelary deities in Ta-senet/Iunyt/Esna.
– Part of Ogdoad mythology.
– Four goddesses guard the dead and the Four Sons of Heru: Nebt-het, Nit, Aset, and Serqet. (And all four of them are in my lineup…)
– In the Contendings of Heru and Set, Nit recommended Heru-sa-Aset over Set as king to replace Wesir and recommended Set be given land and two wives (Anat, Astarte) in compensation.
– Garnet is considered to be associated with Her. (My birthstone.)
– Pyramid Texts: “May the terror of you come into being … like the Nit-crown which is on the King of Lower Egypt.”
– One of the oldest deities with a very widespread cult and sphere of influence/worship.

Barbara Lesko, The Great Goddesses of Egypt:

Unique Goddess, mysterious and great who came to be in the beginning and caused everything to come to be . . . the divine mother of Re, who shines on the horizon . . .

Proclus (412-485 AD) wrote that the adyton of the temple of Nit in Sais carried the following inscription:

I am the things that are, that will be, and that have been. No one has ever laid open the garment by which I am concealed. The fruit which I brought forth was the sun.

Primary Sources:

The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt (Richard H. Wilkinson)
Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt (Geraldine Pinch)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neith