Who the goddess Weret-hekau is?
In ancient Egypt, Weret-hekau was the personification of supernatural power. She is a lion-headed goddess. In Pyramid Texts, she is associated with the divine uraeus and the crown of Lower Egypt. According to the Beliefs, she protected the sun god and acted as a nurse for pharaohs. Thus, she was also a protector goddess.
The Emergence of the Goddess
Originally, the meaning of ‘Weret-hekau’ is ‘Great of Magic’. It means ‘great magician’. So. it actually denotes some great magical powers. Earlier, she was probably considered as ritual objects. Gradually, the importance of magical powers came into prominence. Even, her name was also used as an epithet of other deities. Later, we see her as an independent goddess associated with magic and worshipped. So, it shows us a really interesting story behind the emergence of the goddess. In fact, ancient Egyptians used her name to refer to different material objects such as crowns, vultures, cobra amulets, etc.
The Protector of the Deceased
Weret-hekau was a symbol of protection for the deceased. She often appeared as funerary objects, such as weapons. In these weapons, her name came with the symbol of a snake. Ancient Egyptians believed that these weapons helped the deceased to fight against any dangers of the underworld. Thus, it reflects her strong protective nature. Even, sometimes, ivory knives had her image curved on that. These knives were used as a charm to protect pregnant women.
The Iconography of the Goddess
The iconography of Weret-hekau can tell about her identity, relationship with other deities, attributes, gestures, issues associated with gender, etc. Sometimes, she appears in the lion-headed form. Sometimes, she appears in the form of a snake with the head of a woman. She is often placed beside the solar deity, making her position an important one.
Association with other Deities
The association of Weret-hekau with other ancient Egyptian deities is very prominent as the ancient Egyptian art, literature, etc. reflect it. Ancient Egyptians described her as “She who is Rich in Magic Spells.” This type of thought refers to her as a form of the most important goddess, Isis. In her appearance in the form of a lion or a snake, she is also associated with Wadjet and Sekhmet. As a protector of the sun god, she is associated with the famous story of the “Eye of Ra”.
Representation in Art
The representation of Weret-hekau in ancient Egyptian art is prominent. She often occurs in the reliefs and inscriptions of the New Kingdom. Archaeologists found her image and representations widely from many temples and tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. For example, she appears as a cobra goddess in an amulet in the tomb of the famous pharaoh, Tutankhamun. During the Graeco-Roman Era, Werethekau takes part in the mourning rituals. The scenes of these rituals are depicted on the walls of the Osiris chapel on the roof of the Temple of Philae. So it reflects her importance because of her wide acceptance as an important deity during almost the important periods of ancient Egyptian civilization.
There is a lot to be researched about the goddess Weret-hekau. One main aspect if finding whether she had a prominent cult or not. We can hope that future researches will put light on this matter.