Egyptian Gods: Nephthys

Nephthys is the daughter of Geb (the god of the Earth) and Nut (the goddess of the sky). She is the sister of Osiris, and Isis. She is the sister and wife of Set and the mother of Anubis. Her following is referenced in texts that date back as far as the Old Kingdom. She is part of the Ennead – a group of nine deities linked with the creation myths in Heliopolis. When Ennead and Ogdoad merged, she was one of those who assisted the sun god, Ra in his boat as he journeys across the sky. Her name in Egyptian is spelled as Nebthwt Nebhhwt or Nebthet that meant “Mistress of the House”. She was believed to be the head of the household of Gods and protector of the female head of every household. Her name may also refer to the part of the sky where Horus lived thus, the titles “Lady of the Mansion”, “Mistress of the Mansion”, and “Lady of the House”. She was also associated with Ptah and represented Lower Egypt.

He appears in art as a woman with a long dress carrying a basket on top of the glyph representing the plain of an estate over her head with a scepter and ankh on her hands. As a funerary goddess who represented the normal transitioning of life and death, she is related as a hawk, a falcon, a kite or a woman with wing outstretched for protection. She may also be seen on top of the funeral boat accompanying and assisting the dead in several stages of afterlife. Because of this, she was given the title “Friend of the Dead”.

She is believed to be the personification of the idea of darkness and everything it entails and covers.

According to myth, she conceived no children with Set, the god of the dessert who represented infertility. She believed to have conceived Anubis by Osiris when he pretended to be her sister, Isis, and intoxicated him. Such in affair enraged Set that started his quest on killing Osiris.

Despite her alleged infidelity and affair with Osiris, she has remained very close to her sister Isis. She helped her sister in retrieving the scattered limbs of Osiris thrown at different directions by Set. She abandoned Set and helped in protecting the body of Osiris and his resurrection. She was a loyal friend, a confidant, and dutiful sister to Isis. They always appeared together in funerary rites representing night and day, life and death, and even growth and decay. This made Nephthys acquire one her most important roles as the goddess of mourning who comforted the relatives of the dead. In fact, the wailing and crying mourners in those times were called the “hawks of Nephthys”. Like most funerary goddess, she is found in the ends of coffins, sarcophagus, and shrines for her protection of the contents together with Isis.

She was also believed to be the protector of the pharaoh in life and death. She is pictured to release her fiery breath incinerating the enemies of the pharaoh. She also bestowed upon the pharaoh the ability to see beyond what is hidden by the moonlight making Nephthys the patron of witches and magicians.

She was also worshiped by nursing mothers because she is believed to have nursed Horus and even the pharaoh. Her link to Horus made her one of the important guardians of his canopic jars guarded by Horus’ four sons. Nephthys guarded Hapi, the god who protected the jar that contained the lungs of the dead.

Nephthys had to formal cult center as she is revered throughout the whole Egypt. However, her following were concentrated in the cities of Heliopolis and Abydos. Major centers of worships dedicated to her were in Iunu, in the 13th Nome of Lower Egypt, Senu, Hebet, (Behbit), Per-mert, Re-nefert, Het-sekhem, Het-Khas, Ta-kehset, and Diospolites.