Mistress of Talismans
Taweret is the hippopotamus goddess of fertility, conception, childbirth, vengeance, and the underworld. In her earliest incarnation, she was a sky spirit who helped midwife the sun. An extremely ancient spirit, she may be an importation from sub-Saharan Africa. Evidence based upon archaeological finds in southern Egypt suggests that her images were displayed in households from prehistoric times. Both feared and revered, Taweret’s importance in the official state cult diminished with time, yet she remained an immensely popular folk goddess. Her popularity remained until the Roman conquest.
Once you know Taweret, she’s hard to miss. Her body is comprised of components of the fiercest creatures known to the Egyptians: a hippopotamus, a crocodile, a lion, and a pregnant woman. Her image was all over ancient Egypt: • Pregnant women wore amulets bearing her image.
• Images of Taweret and her husband Bes were carved onto beds and headrests to guard sleepers against snakes and scorpions as well as the night’s spiritual dangers.
• Homes had murals featuring Bes and Taweret.
• Vases molded in her distinctive shape were filled with milk, which poured out through her nipples. These were intended to guarantee conception, facilitate childbirth, and protect mother and baby.
• Her image is engraved on ivory magic wands.
Taweret’s image is intended to have two effects. The first is that she is supposed to be terrifying. Would you choose a toy poodle to be your guard dog? Taweret is essentially the Rottweiler of the spirit world and a pregnant one at that. She is fierce. The protector of pregnant women and children, one of her main functions is to scare away evil spirits. She needs to be scarier than they are.
The second effect of her image is that you never forget her fertility. Taweret’s saggy breasts and huge belly indicate both her present fertility and her past successes in childbirth. Taweret’s form Demonstrates that she can conceive, she can bear and she can nurse. She provides human women with these abilities, too.
Manifestations: Taweret usually manifests as a pregnant hippopotamus standing on her hind legs displaying large, pendulous, women’s breasts. Sometimes her back is that of a crocodile complete with tail, while her arms and legs are those of a lion. In her avenger aspect, Taweret has the body of a hippo and the head of a lion. She brandishes a dagger and has a crocodile slung over her shoulder.
Attributes: A torch to drive away Demons and purify the atmosphere and also the sa, a protective instrument, actually a stylized life preserver worn by ancient Nile river travelers. She may hold a knife, for defense and as a midwife’s tool.
Constellation: Ursa Major and Draco
Sacred sites: Taweret had temples at Thebes, Karnak and at Deir el-Bahri. However, she is predominately a family guardian. Her primary residences are within people’s homes.
Offerings: Beer, incense but mainly Taweret desires home altars and veneration by families.
See also: Ammit; Bes
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
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