Come to me, Peak of the West.
I have cool water to nourish you; I have cool water to nourish your ka.
Come to me as a sweet breeze and I will quench the lion within.
Every once in awhile, someone asks about Meretseger. They hear her name, or see her image in a museum somewhere, and wonder just a little bit…until they either find something else to read about, or decide that Wadjyt is really the one they should focus on, or get frustrated at the lack of available data.
Or, all of the above, really. There’s not really a lot of easily obtainable information – one has to dig further for it than, say, for information about Ausir or Heru.
So, what do we know about Meretseger? Well, for starters, she’s a cobra goddess, and was worshiped locally in the settlement of Set Ma’at which is known today as Deir el-Medina. Set Ma’at was home to the craftsmen and artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and is fascinating to read about and, I imagine, to explore – there are records of community life in the settlement that span almost four hundred years.
The workers in Set Ma’at would honor Meretseger in order to work safely in her domain; she was known for “…striking like a lion when she was angry but coming like a sweet breeze when she was appeased.” (Pinch 2002, 200) It was said that her mountain was over one of the entrances to the Duat and that snakes slept under it at night and then emerged in the day. Meretseger was invoked for protection and also for healing – there’s record of a prayer to her for pain relief being answered with “…sweet breezes.” Along with Hetharu, Taweret, and Bes, Meretseger was also worshiped by the woman of Set Ma’at and invoked for protection.
I am fortunate enough to live where a bite from a venomous snake is not a routine thread (although I’m still careful when gardening!), but Meretseger’s protection is not limited to interactions with serpents. Modern Kemetics, especially craftspeople and artisans, might benefit from petitioning her for aid and protection from the hazards that might be involved with their art (burns while forging or welding, for example.) Like most of the netjeru, cool water is an excellent offering, as is bread, and beer.
- Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print.
- Peacock, Lenka and Andy. Images of Deir el-Medina: Past & Present. Russian Academy of Sciences, Centre for Egyptological Studies,
and the Russian Institute of Egyptology in Cairo, 2005-2014. Web. 2 July 2014.