To say that Egyptian pantheon can be confusing is putting it mildly, especially for the stranger or novice to Kemeticism. There are thousands of Netjeru recorded across thousands of years of ancient Egyptian history, and as time progressed, They shifted. More popular gods took on the characteristics and roles of older gods that They replaced, as with Wesir (Osiris) usurping some of Yinepu’s (Anubis’) duties. Major deities in Lower Egypt were equated with those in Upper Egypt (and vice versa), which happened with Bast and Hethert (Hathor)—Bast is the “Northern Hethert” and Hethert is the “Southern Bast.”
Some of the greatest befuddlement comes from aspected gods and syncretized gods. I’d like to offer a short, hopefully simple definition of each for the clarity of my friends and readers. (Please note: These are my own interpretations based on the general viewpoint of Kemetic Orthodoxy, which is monolatrous and sees Netjeru as flexible in Who They are and how They appear to us. Super-hard polytheists will likely treat every single deity as a separate entity and may not agree with my explanations below. Either way is totally fine.)
Aspected means “same god, different job” or “two faces, one coin.” Nebt-het (Nephthys) is aspected with Nit (Neith) and Seshat; my divined Mother is, in fact, Nebthet-Nit-Seshat. (Yes, the order matters and changes for different people.) Nebt-het is a chthonic goddess Who works with the dead; Nit is a primordial creatrix; Seshat is a patron of language and building. She is still the same deity at Her core, but how She appears varies and is indicated by Her name. Think of it like this: Your (human) mother is the same person all the time, but she’ll look and act differently when she’s at home in her pajamas vs. at work in her overalls and hardhat vs. out to dinner with her friends. So it is with aspected deities like Nebt-het.
Syncretized means “oxygen + hydrogen = water.” The Celestial Cow Hethert-Nut (Hathor-Nuit) is a syncretized god; She is Her own entity, but She is “made” from Hethert’s bovine attributes and Nut’s heavenly attributes, brought together and fused in new ways. Hethert-Nut is not Hethert or Nut—They are three different deities—but They share a lot of similarities, just as a human child will take after both its parents in certain ways, but still be its own person. However, Hethert and Nut are not regarded as the mythological parents of Hethert-Nut.
Since both aspected and syncretized deities are often written with hyphens, it can be difficult to tell if a given Name is aspected or a syncretism. Here’s a quick rundown of Who’s which:
Aspected Netjeru: Aset-Serqet (Aset=Isis) / Serqet-Aset, Wepwawet-Yinepu / Yinepu-Wepwawet, Hethert-Sekhmet / Sekhmet-Hethert. (Note that aspected Names can be written A-B or B-A, depending on which “face” They show the individual most often. The amount that a person interacts with the second name varies; I have almost zero interactions with the other “face” of most of my aspected deities, but others may get Them both in nearly equal measure.)
Syncretized Netjeru: Bast-Mut, Sekhmet-Mut, Hethert-Mut, Sekhmet-Bast-Ra, Amun-Ra, Ra-Heruakhety, Wepwawet-Ra, Sobek-Ra, Heru-Ma’ahes (Heru=Horus), Heru-Shu, and more. (As you can see, quite a few syncretizations were made by adding Mut (Mother and Queen), Ra (Creator and King), or Heru (Warrior and King) to other Names.)
And, of course, it wouldn’t be Kemeticism without a god Who can be either aspected or syncretized, depending on the context: Ptah-Sokar, Sokar-Wesir, and Ptah-Sokar-Wesir.
Thanks to wepwawet.org and per-sabu.org for the lists of aspected and syncretized Names!
2013’s first A post was Aker.
2012’s first A post was Apotropaic Deities.