Neith – Goddess of War and Weaving

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by DanFF

  • Attributes: Goddess of war, hunting, and weaving
  • Symbols: Shield with two crossed arrows, red crown, loom, cow
  • Place: Egypt

Neith (or Nit, Net or Neit) Was the patroness of lower Egypt and the city of Sais, where her devotees also identified her as the Greek Goddess Athena, because of her similar traits.

She is one of the oldest deities of the Egyptian pantheon and in the pre-dynastic period she was represented with the shield and a pair of crossed arrows, when she was considered the Goddess of the hunting and the war, well-known by the epithet “Lover of the bow, Ruler of the arrows”.

After this period, in the lower Egypt she was usually represented with a red crown and weaving needles on it, while in the upper Egypt she possessed a lioness’s head or she was transformed entirely into a cow. It is not known when the arrows have been replaced by the needles. But this may have been a misinterpretation of the Goddess or a reinterpretation of her, to turn her into a weaver goddess.

She usually carries a was (scepter symbolizing power and governance) in the right hand and an ankh (symbol of life) on the left. She is sometimes depicted nursing a crocodile, reflecting a provincial myth that she is the mother or consort of the crocodile God, Sobek. This same myth says that Neith was the creator of the world and mother of the sun God, Ra, making her the mother of all Gods and even mother of Apep, the great enemy serpent of Ra, which arose when the Goddess spat in the provincial waters of Chaos.

Another legend of creation says that she wove the world in her loom and also associates her with funerary rites because she is responsible for creating the bandages that enveloped the mummies (linking her to Nephthys).

Neith is such a powerful and popular deity that the other Gods usually came to her when they could not resolve a dispute. One of the best known cases is the dispute between Horus and Seth for the throne of Egypt. When they saw that they could not get it right, they sent a letter to the Goddess for advice. Horus was made king and Seth gained lands and two wives (Anat and Astarte) as consolation.

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Creation Goddess

So just like IsisHathor and other creation goddesses, Neith was also represented as a cow at times. The cow is a sacred animal to many cultures, symbolizing motherhood, fertility, and renewal.

Neith is the greatest Egyptian creationist Goddess since she does not need a pair to generate life. She causes everything to emerge from the waters of chaos with her will alone. Because of this trait, some scholars consider her to be an androgenic deity.

In addition to creating life, she also protected the dead and the canopic vessels along with Isis, Neftis and Sekmet.

Summoning Neith

In ancient Alexandria, every year a festival was celebrated in honor of the Neith on the last Friday in December. In this festival, called the Banquet of Lamps, devotees burnt countless candles and lit countless torches and lamps at night while enjoying an outdoor feast.

It is believed that the lights of the lamps aligned themselves with the lights of the stars in the sky, raising the veil between the two worlds so that the souls of the dead continued for their new existence.

The lights of Neith protected all those who were traveling to a new world, where they would find a new awakening. The veil was lifted not only for the dead ones, but for all those who wanted to experience Her light.

The best way to honor her even today is to light a flame at night and let it burn until it goes out.

Neith can be summoned whenever you need to renew yourself, helping you to abandon habits that hurt or harm you, for example.

The desire has to be yours! Light the candle or the torch and make your requests, but no sadness at all! Just as in the original festival, Neith should be summoned and honored with joy.

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