Saturday, November 23, 2013

Anuket, Egyptian Goddess of the Nile

Anuket is the Egyptian Goddess of the Nile cataracts, the fields and hunting. Daughter of the God Khnum, a water God, and the Goddess Satet, she was often depicted with a crown that held tall ostrich feathers. She ruled the realms south of present day Egypt in Aswan and Nubia and was referred to as "Mistress of Nubia" or "She Who Embraces".  Anuket was also a Goddess of the hunt and her sacred animal was the gazelle and her mother Satet is associated with the antelope.

She was particularly worshiped by sailors who would inscribe prayers onto stone for safe passage and a safe return on the Nile river.
The areas of the Nile that Anuket ruled over were the cataracts or rapids. Cataracts of the Nile are the rocky areas where whirlpools and rapids ensued. These areas were impassable except during high flood. The annual flooding of the Nile was important to the ancient Egyptians as the excess water gave life to the crops. Being the Goddess of the Nile the ancient Egyptians saw her as a giver of life.

Anuket had a temple erected to her on the island of Seheil. It is said this temple was built in the 13th dynasty by the pharaoh Sobekhotep III. Her cult was located on the island of Elephantine where the annual flood waters from the Nile passed. It is said that this is where her cult originated along with the worship of her mother and father. The three Gods were seen as a triad known as "The Elephantine Triad" with Khnum, Satet and Anuket. They were seen as protectors of the Nile river.

At the start of the harvest season the festival of Anuket was celebrated in which thanks were given for crops such as wheat, flax, papyrus and barley. The festival consisted of magnificent river processions in which the rest of the Gods from the Elephantine Triad were honored. Statues of the Gods were carried on the shoulders of the priests to the boats on the Nile. The celebration also consisted of music, dancing, beating drums and rattling sistrums, burning incense and offerings of jewelry and coin were thrown into the Nile.

I hope you enjoyed learning about this ancient Mother of the Nile!

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