Ancient Egyptian mythology is a treasure chest of captivating stories and incredible beings. Snakes are one creature that has a prominent role in Egyptian mythology. The ancient Egyptians regarded snakes as important not only in their daily lives but also in their rich mythology. This article will discover some interesting and entertaining facts about snakes in Egyptian mythology. These facts will transport you into the world of ancient Egypt.
Cobras are a common snake in Egyptian mythology. The Egyptian cobra, or Naja haje, is one of them. This snake was famous for its hooded appearance and deadly venom. The cobra was a protective god closely related to the ancient Egyptian Wadjet. Wadjet often appeared as a serpent and was depicted on the crowns worn by the pharaohs.
Guardians of Pharaohs
In ancient Egypt, the cobra was believed to protect pharaohs. Cobras appeared on the headgear (or uraeus) worn by Pharaohs. They symbolized the pharaohs’ authority, protection, and relationship with the goddess Wadjet. This belief about the cobra’s protective powers shows how highly Egyptians regarded them.
The Serpent Apep
Apep was also called Apophis in Egyptian mythology. Apep often appeared as a giant, chaotic serpent and was considered a personification of chaos. Egyptians believed Apep resided in the underworld. He would attempt to eat Ra, their sun god, every night. Ra’s journey to the underworld included a nightly struggle against Apep.
Snakes of the Afterlife
Snakes figured prominently in Egyptian funerary customs. They were connected to transformation and the notion of rebirth, which were central themes within Egyptian beliefs on the afterlife. In some tombs, amulets shaped like snakes were placed on the mummies of deceased people to guide and protect them in the afterlife.
Ouroboros is the ancient symbol of a snake or serpent that eats itself, creating a constant circle. This symbol symbolizes the cycle that includes life, dying, and rebirth. In Egyptian mythology, the Ouroboros were closely related to Ra, the sun god, symbolizing his eternal journey through heaven.
The Snake-Goddess Meretseger
Meretseger, in Egyptian mythology, is a lesser-known snake goddess. She was associated with the mountainous Valley of the Kings. She is said to have protected the tombs of the ancient pharaohs. Meretseger translates to “She Who loves Silence,” reflecting her role in guarding the tombs of pharaohs.
Snakes and Healing
Ancient Egypt was also connected with snakes as a healing agent. Renenutet (often depicted as a cobra-headed goddess) was said to oversee the harvest and feed the people. She was linked with the care of babies and was also associated as a protector. Her picture was sometimes painted on household items for good luck.
Snakes and fertility
In some Egyptian stories, snakes were connected to fertility and birth. Atum, the god of creation, is sometimes shown as a giant snake or a man wearing a head with a large snake. This represented the belief the universe emerged from an abyss filled with water.
The ancient Egyptian world is full of fascinating creatures and tales, and snakes are one of them. These snakes weren’t just considered pests. Instead, they were symbols of protection. Snakes played an important role in Egyptian mythology. From the cobra goddess Wadjet protecting the Egyptians to the chaos serpent Apep, the Ouroboros symbolizing life’s cycle.
While we explore the fascinating stories of ancient Egypt and their beliefs, we appreciate how the people viewed and integrated nature into their rich cultures and spirituality. Remember the next time you encounter a snake that, in ancient Egyptian legend, held a very special place in people’s hearts, representing the mysteries of existence and the guardians to the afterlife.