The ancient Egyptians worshipped many different deities associated with childbirth, fertility, and pregnancy. For example, some were viewed as a protector of women during their pregnancy, while others are responsible for contributing to the spirituality of a newborn. Two related deities are discussed in this article.
Worshipped since the Pre Dynasty, Tawaret was an Egyptian goddess seen as a protector of women during pregnancy and childbirth. In art, the deity is shown as a collection of three different animals: the hippopotamus, crocodile and lion. The animal choices are significant because all three creatures are known for becoming fierce when it comes to protecting their young. Tawaret has the appearance of a pregnant hippopotamus with the large breasts, back and tail of a crocodile. Her arms and legs belong to a lion and on her head, she has long, straight human hair.
The goddess is often seen standing on her hind legs with one arm resting on the sa hieroglyph. This is a symbol of protection. In her hand, she holds an ankh, which represents life. It is not uncommon to see the deity shown with Bes in the birth chamber with her playing the role of an assistant.
The ancient Egyptians believed that Tawaret would protect the children and help women who were giving birth. The goddess was thought to scare off demons that may pose a threat to mother or child. Because of this, an amulet was often worn by pregnant women that had the name or image of Tawaret. Sometimes, her image was kept in the home to serve as protection.
Tawaret was also known as a goddess of harvests and was linked to the flooding of the Nile because of the flourishing crops that followed. At times, she was referred to as the goddess of the flooding Nile. Tawaret was worshipped in the homes of ancient Egyptians. She did not have a temple dedicated to her or a cult following. This goddess was known by many different names, such as Taweret, Taurt, Tuat, Taueret, Tuart, Ta-weret, Taueret, Thoeris and Teoris, which translates into “One Who is Great.”
As the goddess of childbirth, Mesenet was also known as the creator of each child’s Ka, which was a part of their soul. It was the goddesses’ responsibility to breathe this contribution into each baby at the moment of their birth.
During ancient Egypitan times, it is said that women delivered babies while squatting on a pair of bricks. It was Mesenet who was linked to this method of delivery. This is why sometimes, she is depicted in art as a brick with a woman’s head that is wearing the uterus of a cow. Other times, she is a woman who wears the cow’s uterus on her headdress.
With a connection to creating the Ka, Mesenet is also associated with fate. Mesenet is an early Egyptian goddess and one of the oldest worshipped. The deity was also referred to as Meskhenet, Meskhent, and Meshkent.