The Oldest One; Nurse of Crocodiles
The inscription on Neith’s temple in Sais in the Nile Delta (now modern Sa el-Hagar) read:
I am all that has been,
that is and that will be
No mortal has yet been able
to lift the veil that covers me
Neith, the First One, primordial goddess, was never born but always existed. Alternatively she is completely self-generated. Neith travelled from the deserts and oases of Libya to emerge as among the greatest of Egyptian goddesses. In one Egyptian creation myth, Neith brought forth Ra, the sun. Then she invented the shuttle and loom, put the sky on her loom, and wove the world into existence. Neith, the first to give birth, invented weaving. Her name may derive from a word for “to weave” or “to knit.”
Neith is a goddess of hunting. She presides over crafts of all kinds, including witchcraft and warcraft. Amuletic weapons placed in the tomb to protect the deceased from evil spirits were consecrated to Neith. She is the judge of the Egyptian deities. After eighty years, when the lawsuit between Horus and Set in the Court of Deities was still not resolved, Neith was called in to render a decision to which all would defer. (She favoured Horus but compensated Set. Neith has historically had a close, positive relationship with Set.)
Neith was worshipped with Mysteries and lantern processions. She may be venerated independently or together with her son, Sobek. The Greeks identified her with Athena, also identified as originating in Libya. Many consider Athena to be a Greek path of Neith or at least a very closely related spirit.
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Soldiers, hunters, weavers, artisans
Neith appears as an androgynous woman. She wears the red crown of Lower Egypt. She sometimes appears in the guise of a golden cobra, too.
She is customarily depicted with a green face and hands. Neith is portrayed suckling a crocodile at each breast.
Two arrows and a shield, shuttle
Crocodile, snake, bee
Her primary shrine was in Sais
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.