Weekly Deity: Renenutet


Renenutet is the Egyptian goddess of nourishment, the harvest, and the true name.

Attributes

Renenutet could be simply a cobra, or a woman with the head of a cobra.  Sometimes she would be shown with her husband Sobek, and sometimes alone.

Mythology

A true name, to the Egyptians, was an aspect of the soul acquired during birth.  It would be necessary for life.  Renenutet is not only the goddess of this aspect of the soul but is anthropomorphized as the true name.  She brought the true name to the baby upon birth but also was the true name, if that makes sense.

Renenutet was also considered a goddess of grains and the harvest, as well as nourishment.  This probably comes from her association with the snake and from a secondary meaning of her name, “nourishment snake”.  She is a goddess of riches and good fortune and is worshiped most at harvest time.

Her husband is usually considered to be Sobek, the god of the Nile.  But the ancients usually associated Renenutet more with her son, Nehebkau, who was the god of and anthropomorphic deity of the entrance to the Underworld.  When Renenutet was seen as the mother of Nehebkau, she was then considered the wife of Geb, the earth.

Sometimes Renenutet is confused with Wadjet, another snake goddess represented by a cobra.

Light and Dark Sides

Renenutet seems like a very positive deity.  She brings life and nourishment.  She is, in fact, part of the reason we live, seeing as how she brings us a part of our soul at birth.  Since she doesn’t feature in any myths, we can’t get an accurate reading of her personality from that source, and all we have to go on are the ideas of what she does and what she is responsible for.

Her duties seem to be very positive as well.  She brings nourishment and the harvest, and works with either one of her husbands, both of whom are related to the earth and/or the harvest, in order to bring plenty to the fields.  She is a goddess of good fortune, but there is where we must be careful, as we should with any deity of good fortune–it is too easy to think that good fortune will always be around, when in fact the deity could decide to withhold their favor.  Treat that aspect with care.

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