Egyptian Gods: Mut

Mut is the Mother goddess and the queen of all gods whose following started in Waset in Thebes. She is the wife and consort of the Amun, when she replaced her wife from original Ogdoad deities, Amaunet. When Thebes became the national capital, the local Theban gods and goddesses became national deities. This made Mut associated with the queen, the mother of the nation. Her name may be alternatively spelled as Maut and Mout that roughly translates to mother.

Mut is often represented as a woman, occasionally with wings wearing the double crown of royalty of the whole Egypt or the vulture headdress of the New Kingdom queens. She may also be depicted as a vulture especially in hieroglyphs because ancient Egyptians viewed the vultures as nurturing mothers with protective powers. Vulture heads are sometimes seen projecting from her shoulders. She also may be holding the papyrus scepter in her hand. She may also be seen as a woman with the lioness head, a cow or even a cobra because of the several other deities and functions she has assimilated over time.

It is believed that Mut’s existence dates as far back as the time of chaotic Nun in Ogdoad cosmogony. She is thought of as a self-created goddess and is sometimes depicted as a male deity. Because of this, she earned the epithet “Mut, Who Giveth Birth, But Was Herself Not Born of Any”. This maybe because ancient Egyptians believed that there were no male griffon vultures (males and females are almost similar in appearance).

Her rise to power came in the Middle Kingdom where she, together with Amun and their adopted son, Khonsu (moon god) became the venerated triad in the temple of Amen in at Ipet-Resyt (now Luxor). Originally, their adopted son was the war god Montu, but he was changed by the moon god, possibly because of Mut’s sacred lake that was in the form of a crescent moon. Her temple, known as “Hwt-Mwt” (that means “the estate of Mut”) was positioned to the south of the great temple of Amen-Ra. It is believed that it is decorated with an avenue of sphinxes approaching it. She was worshiped here with the following epithets: “Mut, the Great Lady of Isheru, the Queen of the Gods and the Lady of Heaven”

As a national deity, she became extremely popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties especially during the reigns most notably of the Pharaoh Hatshepsut and Nefertari Merytnmut (known as “Nefertari, Beloved of Mut”), the Chief wife of Rameses II.

When Amun became the sun god, Ra, Mut became the Eye of Ra that protected the deity in his journey across the sky. This associated Mut with several other goddesses with whose functions she may have assimilated or vice versa. Her association with several different deities created into shape several other composite deities. She was the Great Mother and Lady with the deity known as Mut-Isis-Nekhbet. In this aspect, they are a winged goddess with an erect penis, feet of a lioness, and three heads – a head of a lioness wearing Min’s double plumed headdress, another wearing the double crown of Egypt, and the last, a head of the vulture wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt. She was also three-headed Bast-Mut-Sekhmet deity – one head was that of a lion in a plumed headdress, another is a woman wearing the double crown and the last, is a vulture wearing the double plume headdress. Her function in this aspect is to protect the dead from being disturbed. She may also be worshipped as composite deities Mut-Wadjet-Bast, Mut-Temt, and Mut-Sekhmet-Bast-Menhet.

During the New Kingdom, Mut has her very own festival named after her in Thebes. As part of the festivities, her statue is placed on a Barque and is sailed around Isheru (the crescent moon-shaped revered lake at her temple at Karnak).Their union with Amun has been much celebrated too that at the New Year festival, the Statue of Amun is traveled from Luxor to Karnak just to visit her.

Are you planning a trip to Egypt? Traveling to Egypt can really make the history come alive. As you stand in awe in front of the great Pyramids of Giza, or walk through the temple at Abu Simbel the reality of the ancient Egyptians hits home. Many tours are available to save you time & can make the experience much more pleasant. Due to the current unrest in Egypt, be sure to check travel advisories before purchasing flights or booking any tours.