Weekly Deity: Bes


Bes is primarily the Egyptian god of childbirth.  He also had a hand in minor demon warding/protection against wicked things and in laughter, song, and dance.

Attributes

This god is usually depicted as a fat and bearded dwarf–very unusual physically for an Egyptian deity who were often tall and slender.  Bes is almost always shown full-on rather than in profile.  He was said to be so ugly that he could frighten away a demon just by looking at it.  He is also sometimes depicted with feline or leonine features.

Mythology and Worship

As a god of childbirth, pregnant women would pray to him and offer him sacrifices of incense or food.  Statues of him would be kept near the pregnant woman’s bed, especially during the actual birthing.  Once the baby was born and growing, it was said that Bes would dance around and sing to the baby, and any time a baby laughed or smiled for no apparent reason it was because of Bes’s antics.

In later worship, Bes was given some healing properties as well, dealing with fertility issues or small, general healings.

Many houses kept statues of Bes near the door, to guard against wicked creatures that caused minor misfortunes.  Just a statue of Bes’ ugly face was enough to frighten these creatures away.

Bes was married to the goddess Beset.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find any examples of myths concerning Bes–the only information available is that of how he was worshiped by the people and what they considered him to be.

Light Side

On the positive side, it seems that Bes is a protector and a helper.  He aids in the difficult task of childbirth and brings laughter and joy to the children.   Without myths to speak to his personality, it’s more difficult to say what his Light side would be, but we can take some guesses based on what we know.  He’s not a trickster, which would be inappropriate for the tasks he has, but he is very light-hearted when dealing with children, kind and stubborn when aiding in childbirth, and fierce and protective when confronting the minor evil creatures at the doors.

Dark Side

On the opposite side, protection can be smothering.  Denial of all things dark leads to a weakening of the light, and if Bes is chasing away all the minor dark things, wouldn’t that then leave room for major dark creatures to move in?  His dark side could then be an overprotectiveness, which would make sense as mothers can sometimes be overprotective and Bes is a god of childbirth and pregnant mothers.

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