Nebt-het

Nebt-het

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. :)

attributes

– death
— mourning
—— especially mourning for Wesir with Aset and helping to reassemble Him
— comforting those who grieve
— guiding the dead
— funerals
— mummy wrappings (equated with Her hair)
—— weaving
— offering libations on behalf of the dead
— suckling the dead king
— protecting corpses and tombs
— protecting the canopic jars (specifically Hapy/Hapi, one of the Four Sons of Heru, Who guarded the lungs)
—— could also assist and guard the living
– assisting childbirth (stands at the mother’s head, Aset at the feet)
– long-sighted (Aset seeks, Nebt-het finds)
– healing (Aset appeals to Her once to help heal Her infant son, Heru-sa-Aset)
— hunt-finding as Eye of Ra (“Nebt-het has favored me, and I have captured my opponent.”)
– punishing those with the Evil Eye (envy, jealousy, malice)
– shared attributes with Set
— infertility, barrenness
— liminality
—— called Teleute (End) by Hellenistic Egyptians
—— “ends of the earth”
—— “fringing on mountains”
—— “bordering the sea”
— drunkenness
—— “Nebt-het is drunk” was a personal name
—— was said to “give drunkenness without pain”
— violence

forms

– woman crowned with Her hieroglyph
– a winged human
– kite
– swallow
– crow
– vulture

relationships

– sister and wife to Set
– sister to Aset
– sister to Wesir
– mother to Yinepu by Wesir
– sister to Heru-wer
– daughter of Nut and Geb
– identified with Nit (with Whom She is frequently interchanged) and Seshat (Who is also often equated with Nit)
– protects Heru-sa-Aset while He’s a child
– identified with Anuket, consort of Khnum

epithets

– Lady of the House (/Temple/Mansion)
– Joyful One
– Good Sister (also an epithet for Hethert)
– Divine Sister
– Sister of the Gods
– Who Stands Behind Her Brother
– Mourning Woman
– Mooring-Post (death)
– Nebt-het of the Bed of Life (funerary bed)
– Horizon of the East
– Lady of Books
– Lady of the House of Beautification (embalming)
– Lady of the Invocation-Offerings of the Mound of the Shrine
– She Who Comes out of the Arms of Aker
– Of High Voice in the Earth of the Region of Silence
– Lady of What Is In The Netherworld
– Great Goddess of the West
— “the West calls to you as Nebt-het”
– Lady of the Western Country (also an epithet for Aset)
– Eye of Ra
– Useful Goddess
– Excellent Goddess

notes

– She was born on one of the five epagomenal days, days outside the year. She is the youngest of Her siblings.
– The meaning of Her name and thus her title, “Lady of the House,” was frequently used to indicate the eldest female of a family or the woman in charge of a household.
— The word for “house” in Her name, hw.t, is not the more common pr. Hw.t is also found in Hethert’s name, potentially referring to a more celestial-oriented “house.”
— “… as for anyone who shall lay a finger on this pyramid and this temple which belongs to me and my ka, he will have laid his finger on the mansion of Heru* in the firmament, he will have offended [tread upon] Nebt-het everywhere.” *Hethert’s name means House of Heru, another link between Hethert and Nebt-het.
– Her only notable myth is the Wesir-cycle, throughout which She takes Her brother Wesir’s side and never Her husband Set’s.
– No amulets for Her have been found pre-dynasty 22.
– At the end of the New Kingdom (dynasty 19/20), She had a temple in Seper-meru with a priesthood equal to a neighboring Set temple. She also had a temple at Kom Mer, dedicated to Nebt-het and Anuket, as well as “Nebt-het-as-Anuket.”
– “Living close to the shadowy zone also frequented by … Set, she was able to steal more easily into the realm of the dead.”
— To know a place is to have power over it.
— She is referred to as the “night boat” that Ra uses to make His nightly journey through the underworld.
– She is not just a god of death in a passive sense; She has been invoked to cause it or prayed to so that She doesn’t cause it.
— Pyramid Texts say to placate Her to avoid harm.
— Coffin Texts refer to protecting against Nebt-het’s attack.
— “Save me from any bad thing of this year, from any slaughter of this year, just as You have made my protection.”
— Book of the Dead: “… Nebt-het has done away with him … Nebt-het has put an end to my troubles.”
– She can give magicians control over muuet, the angry dead.
– Referred to as “an imitation woman with no vagina,” a reference to infertility or possibly non-normative gender; Nebt-het can be seen as androgynous or bisexual.
— The word “sekhyt” is better translated not as “eunuch” (common translation) but as “sexless” or “incapable of reproducing”; it is applied to Nebt-het.
— Some scholars consider “sekhyt” to describe any deity/person who does not fit traditional gender roles.
– A potentially unreliable source claims She is a goddess of air, but also of rain and the Nile’s source waters.
– A few non-book sources state that Nebt-het either seduced Wesir with drugged wine to conceive Yinepu or disguised Herself as Aset to conceive Yinepu.
– She could give the pharaoh the power to see “that which is hidden by moonlight.”
– An unverified source claims that Nebt-het is the “unique protectress” of the bennu bird and received the name “Nephthys-Kheresket” in that role.

Primary Sources

Nebt-Het: Lady of the House (Tamara L. Siuda)
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)