The neteru (nature spirits/deities) featured in Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt and the Anubis Oracle are archetypal guides and principles from the Egyptian pantheon. With ancient wisdom and abiding love, they lead us on our shamanic journey of transformation?a journey designed to awaken the healing power of our hearts.
You can find many wonderful interpretations of these deities?both scholarly and anecdotal?in the Egyptian literature. Our work approaches the neteru from a more personal point of view. It is concerned with a deep rich inner experience of the neteru based on our own spiritual communion with these ancient gods. The first archetype listed here?the Dove?is not initially one of the neteru. Instead, the Dove represents you, the initiate, as you enter into these mysteries and approach these venerable spirits for guidance. Just as they did in ancient times, the neteru are coming forth to assist us in meeting the challenges of today?s world.
In this glossary we present the neteru in the order that they appear in Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt. The first part of each description is based on our direct phenomenological experience of these powerful deities. We follow our own understanding with a few brief comments on generally accepted history and interpretations for each deity.
0. The Dove: Initiate/Innocence/Trust
The Dove represents the reader as the archetypal principle of the innocent initiate who responds to the call to enter these mysteries. The Dove trusts his or her own inner knowing in the face of the powerful transformational forces encountered on this path. The initiate carries an olive branch as an offering of peace and to honor each of the neteru that are our guides throughout the journey. The white Dove is the bridge between the present world of humanity and the ancient past. For most people the Dove will automatically evoke some kind of spiritual connection, as the olive branch does for peace and reverence.
The Dove transcends history and culture as a universal symbol of peace and innocence. It is seen as the soul and the Holy Spirit in Christianity and is sacred to the goddess Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. The dove appears on the Fool card in some tarot decks. Although doves are plentiful and live in the temples throughout Egypt, they are rarely mentioned in recent historical mythology.
1. Nekhbet-Mother-Mut: Alchemist/Wisdom Keeper/Grand Mother
Nekhbet-Mother-Mut is the most revered and ancient grand dame of Egypt. She is the wise old crone and honored elder of the pantheon of neteru, and comes to us in this work as a blend of the two vulture goddesses Mut and Nekhbet. As with all gods, she must be approached with respect if one wishes to gain permission to enter into these sacred mysteries. One does not trifle with this goddess, for she is a disciplined taskmaster who assists the initiate in making the decision to engage fully with this process of transformation. Once the decision has been made to move forward, her loving watchful eye is always upon the initiate to ensure safe passage through the portals of shamanic initiation.
Nekhbet-Mother-Mut is one of the oldest gods in the Egyptian pantheon. As Nekhbet, she was a protector goddess of Upper Egypt in the south, closely related to Wadjet, the cobra goddess who was the protector of Lower Egypt in the north. Both were also guardians of the king and of women and children, especially in childbirth. In her Mut aspect, she was generally an anthropomorphic goddess, often depicted holding her son, the moon god Khonsu, on her lap, yet she also has a leonine visage. Her name means ?mother? and it is represented hieroglyphically as a vulture. As the feminine counterpart of Amun (a creator god), she was the stately queen mother who wore royal crowns and maintained a regal presence. Mut and Amun were considered parents to all the pharaohs from the reign of Hatshepsut forward. Mut?s great temple in the vast complex at Karnak held most of the statues of the lion goddess Sekhmet, many of which are now scattered in museums around the world.
2. Nephthys: High Priestess/Intuition/Mystery
Nephthys is the hidden or veiled one who serves as a medium between worlds. She comes to us in dreams, flashes of intuition, and visions. Along with Isis and Nekhbet-Mother-Mut, Nephthys is an aspect of the Triple Goddess. She relies upon spirit to direct her in all things and she holds the mystery teachings of life, death, and rebirth deep within her essence. In our shamanic visionary experience, Nephthys inspires the initiate as she whispers her secrets into the wind and dances exotically under the starry sky, with magnificent serpents winding around her beautiful bronze arms.
Nephthys is the twin sister of Isis, the night to Isis?s day. They are almost inseparable, although Isis is much more renowned. It is intrinsic to Nephthys?s nature to be secret and hidden. She was primarily considered a funerary goddess, guarding the canopic jars and other aspects of the mortuary rites. When Isis?s husband Osiris was murdered and dismembered, Nephthys helped her sister to find the lost parts of his body and reassemble them.
Nephthys was paired with the shadow god Set, yet it was with Osiris that she conceived and gave birth to the shaman priest Anubis. The sisters Isis and Nephthys are often seen standing behind Osiris, giving him energy through their hands. They are found at either end of every sarcophagus from the later Egyptian dynasties, presumably guarding the dead.
3. Isis: Holy Queen Mother of Us All; Embodied Manifestation of Love
Isis is the pure clear essence of spirit embodied in matter. She is always with us on this journey as a loving supportive force through every transformation we undergo. Isis re-members us when we die the shaman?s death; she makes us whole again as she urges us forth into a new incarnation?a new way of being at a higher octave of consciousness. She is the Queen of both Heaven and Earth and unfolds her brilliant rainbow wings to build a rainbow bridge of love between the worlds of form and formlessness.
Isis is the Great Mother who is also a magician and student of Thoth (god of wisdom). According to the most prevalent myth, Isis and Osiris fell in love while in the womb of their mother, the sky goddess Nut. During their earthly reign over Egypt, peace and harmony prevailed. Agriculture developed and Isis taught weaving and traveled the land as a midwife.
When Osiris was murdered by his brother Set, Isis grieved and searched until she found her husband embedded in a sacred tree in Byblos. By the depth of her love and magic, and the wisdom teachings of Thoth, she was able to conceive their son Horus after her husband?s death. In their search for the murdered Osiris, Both Isis and Nephthys were associated with the kite, a small hawk that flew about seeking carrion and screeching. Their hawk like cries are similar to the keening of mourners throughout Egypt.1 It was in the form of the kite that Isis was able to enter the dimensions beyond life to conceive Horus with Osiris. As the Mother of Horus, Isis?s popularity grew and she was venerated for her powers of nurturing, protection, and healing.2
Over time, Isis has become one of the most popular goddesses ever known. She has absorbed many goddesses who preceded her and has influenced or suffused many who have followed. The myth of Inanna and of Demeter and Persephone, as well as the legend of the Virgin Mary and Christ, bear remarkable resemblance to her story. Her veneration spread from Egypt throughout the region. Ancient sanctuaries dedicated to Isis can be found in Byblos, Rome and Greece, and more modern sanctuaries exist throughout most of the world.
4. Khnum: Master Craftsman/Creator of Form/Organizing Principle
Khnum is the highly skilled Master Craftsman who creates the eternally evolving varieties of material form upon his potter?s wheel. He holds the universal secrets of the organizing principles of DNA and of life itself. Khnum lovingly and carefully re-creates the new body, or form, that will house our renewed heart after its transformation in these sacred heart rituals.
The word khnum means ?to unite,? as in uniting the ka (the ancestral lineage) with the physical body and the ba (the soul). Khnum was variously known as the ba of Ra, the ba of Geb, and the ba of Osiris.1
He was closely associated with the Nile, and was said to have controlled the inundation from his domain at Elephantine Island. Elephantine is located near the first cataracts, which were considered the source of the Nile by the ancient Egyptians. Khnum is distinguished from the other ram-headed gods by his horns, which grow horizontally outward in swirls. Khnum was also quite closely associated with Sobek (the crocodile god) at both Elephantine and Essna, and with Amun, another ram-headed creator god.
5. Sphinx: Divine Messenger/Cosmic Library/Earth Altar
The Sphinx is a Divine Messenger and repository of cosmic akashic (spiritually informed) wisdom. As an Earth Altar and Cosmic Library this mysterious one holds the stellar messages from our ancient ancestors?messages that have been waiting for centuries for our readiness to receive their sacred transmissions.
For thousands of years the enigmatic Sphinx has inspired deep thought and questioning. Its source remains a mystery and its very existence is a riddle that challenges our knowledge of history. Conventional Egyptology claims that the Sphinx was created by the Pharaoh Khafre about 2500 BC. There is a resemblance between its current visage and that of Khafre, however the disproportion between the Sphinx?s large body and small head might indicate that its current face was carved from a previous one, perhaps that of a lion.
There is a stele, a large upright slab of granite, between the paws of the Sphinx. It tells the story of how Thuthmose IV, a general around 1400 BC, sheltered himself from the afternoon sun beneath the head of the Sphinx, whose body was buried to the neck in sand. He fell asleep and received a message from the Sphinx in a dream. The Sphinx told Thuthmose that he was suffocating under the weight of all that sand. If Thutmose cleared the sand and freed the Sphinx, he would become pharaoh. Thutmose had the sand removed and soon afterward was crowned as king.
6. Sobek & Horus: Reconciliation/Forgiveness/Understanding
Sobek and Horus represent two powerful opposing psychic forces found in all human beings?the old and the new parts of each of us. The crocodile god, Sobek, is associated with the reptilian brain, the primitive non-verbal part of the brain that ensures our physical survival at the level of stimulus and response. The reptilian brain holds the most ancient evolutionary patterns from which we have evolved. It has kept us protected, alive, and growing forward. In opposition to Sobek, Horus is associated with the neo cortex, which serves as the center of higher mental functions for humans. The neo cortex is also associated with our higher chakras and, among other things, relates to our connection with spirit. To create balance in our lives, Sobek and Horus have come into this work as adversarial allies. It is their task to create a harmonious union within our psyches.
Sobek is an ancient creator god who is linked with both Ra and Horus, and who shares a temple with Horus at Kom Ombo. Throughout the long history of Egypt, his representation has changed. During the Old Kingdom Sobek was revered as a god of the Nile and the floods, bringing fertility, while at the same time feared as a god of destruction. From the Middle Kingdom onward he was closely associated with Ra (the sun god) and during Greco-Roman times Hathor (goddess of reconciliation) was considered to be his consort and Khonsu (the moon god) their child.
It is probable that some form of the falcon god Horus was venerated as far back as pre-dynastic times when rulers were called Followers of Horus. It would be impossible to cover but a fraction of his attributes here. Horus is considered twice born, once of Nut and Geb, and again as the son of Isis and Osiris, conceived after Osiris?s death through the love and magic of Isis. As a young prince he was groomed and trained to inherit the royal leadership of his father. His primary image is as falcon or hawk and his primary identification is with the sky and the sun. Yet there are leonine images, as well, and by the New Kingdom he was associated with the Great Sphinx and with many other gods that through time assimilated his power. His child form was usually anthropomorphic and thousands of amulets were created depicting the image of Isis suckling the young Horus on her lap. The story of his conception, birth, development, struggles for sovereignty, and eventual and continuing reign as the ruler of the gods makes Horus one of the most prominent gods of Egypt. Much of his mythic battle with Set is described on the walls of his temple at Edfu.
7. Sekhmet: Transformation/Fierce Compassion/Healer
Sekhmet is a compelling fiery neter who comes to us when we are in the midst of the fires of alchemical transformation. She shows us her fierce compassion as she assists us in healing the dual nature within. She also helps us to shape-shift into our future selves?the selves we are struggling to become. As we evolve to the next level of consciousness, Sekhmet opens and purifies our heart space, creating fertile ground that can receive the visionary seeds of who we will become.
Sekhmet?s name means ?the power,? or ?the mighty one.? She is the feminine fire, feared by many, yet known as the quintessential healer in Egypt. She is a fierce guardian of Ma?at (goddess of truth), with whom she became associated in later dynasties. She is also interchangeable in certain stories with Hathor (goddess of reconciliation). She is a daughter of the sun god Ra and consort of the creator god Ptah.
In one of the prevailing myths, Ra calls his daughter Sekhmet to Earth to deal with some humans who have become disrespectful of his reign. Enraged by what she encounters, Sekhmet begins a slaughter that, once she has a taste of human blood, threatens to annihilate all of humanity. Ra knows that he can?t control his daughter, so he calls upon Thoth to come up with a solution. Thoth advises Ra to have his priests brew huge vats of barley beer, dyed red to resembled blood and spiked with herbs to make her calm. This they pour out upon the land surrounding Sekhmet while she sleeps. When she wakes up, she drinks the beer and becomes intoxicated, returning to her more docile nature. This myth is also attributed to Hathor, with whom Sekhmet is very closely linked.
Sekhmet?s color is red and her breath is the hot wind of the desert. In a manner similar to Wadjet, the cobra goddess who is seen at her brow in front of the solar disc that she wears as a crown, Sekhmet is thought to have breathed fire at her enemies. Sekhmet?s powers are associated with healing and protection, as well as destruction and war. She was considered the one who brought plagues, yet she was also the one called upon to cure them. There is a current resurgence of veneration for Sekhmet today, particularly in her aspect as the healer who is in touch with the magical aspects of medicine and transformation.
8. Ma?at: Truth/Radiance/Balance
Ma?at is the powerful balancer and adjuster who helps us to accept and love the truth about ourselves. ?The light the dark no difference.? Her brilliant radiance reflects our own back to us so that we may truly see who we are and know where our ?work? lies as we move toward greater wholeness. She is the Regal Mistress who reigns over the Hall of Mirrors. She sees beyond right and wrong and creates divine justice in our affairs.
Ma?at represents cosmic law, divine order, and justice; she is also the balance for which we strive. She is closely associated with Thoth, for wisdom and truth go hand in hand. She can be recognized by the tall feather that she usually wears, probably that of an ostrich, and is most often represented as an anthropomorphic deity. In dynastic Egypt, her image was offered as sustenance for the other gods who ?live on Ma?at.? In her association with judgment, the scales of Ma?at weigh the heart of the deceased against her feather, which is sometimes substituted for her image. An enlightened heart is full of light and weighs nothing. It was the purpose of all Egyptian kings to uphold the truth, balance and order that Ma?at personifies.
9. Thoth: Illumination/Architect of Wisdom/Enlightened Communication
This sacred holy scribe and wisdom keeper urges us ever upward toward higher learning so that we are able to understand the deeper meaning of our lives. When we have embodied the truth of our lives we are able to articulate and share that wisdom authentically from an enlightened place. This form of communication has its basis in the soul?s fountain of wisdom.
Thoth is usually represented as either a sacred ibis or a baboon, or a man with an ibis head. In ancient times he was called Djehuti and he was associated with Hermes by the Greeks. The Hermetic tradition, the Western magical tradition, and the tarot are all sourced from Thoth. To the ancient Egyptians, he represented the highest concept of mind. He is closely associated with the moon, and therefore knows the secrets of time and measurement. As the god of writing, communications, language, medicine and healing, architecture, mathematics and accounting, astronomy, science, and magic Thoth has long been known as the ?teachers? teacher.? He is also considered to be the author of all great Egyptian books of wisdom. The Romans called him Mercury, the messenger of the gods, yet he is much more?he is the mediator, the one who sees the big picture and finds a solution for every problem. Whereas Ptah was said to have created the world with his thoughts, Thoth was said to have named those thoughts into being and is sometimes called ?the tongue of Ptah? or ?the intellect of Ptah.? Another creation myth suggests that Thoth rose up from the primordial mound and created, out of the primeval chaos, the Ogdoad, the original eight principles of nature from which all life emerged.
10. Khepera: Cycles of Change/Planetary Guardian/Spiral Dancer
The mighty scarab, Khepera, serves planet Earth as a loyal guardian and spinner of cycles, bringing forth necessary changes that allow creation to keep moving forward. S(he) is a Spiral Dancer who faithfully filters and transmits the powerful stellar and cosmic energies that radiate to all Earth?s creatures. Khepera knows how to spin the energies and hold the balance of time and the Turning of the Ages in his/her mighty feet.
Khepera is the Becoming One, the ancient scarab beetle who pushes the solar orb above the horizon at dawn. The scarab represents the morning sun and is closely associated with creation and resurrection. Although there was no specific cult following for Khepera, his image is found all over Egypt. Scarabs started appearing as amulets in the fifth dynasty. Their popularity continued to grow throughout the lengthy civilization of ancient Egypt and continues up to current times. Scarab beetles are considered protectors. In some instances scarabs were placed in mummy wrappings and over the heart of the deceased.
11. Bast: Holy Longing (Desire)/Instinct & Sensuality
The sensual cat goddess Bast creates the compelling desire to be born into form from the disembodied ba in the realm of formlessness. Her instinctual holy longing is irresistible in its urgency to create new life. She shows us that birth is sacred and being born into form is a blessing not a curse. She is our guardian through the birthing chambers each time we are ready to renew our form. Without her alluring promise of new delights, we would never have the impetus or courage to reenter the cosmic birth canal and be born over and over again. With each birth we celebrate the joy and magic of our precious incarnation here on Earth.
Originally seen as a leonine goddess, and as such a Daughter of Ra with the aggressive, protective tendencies of a lion, Bast became the Cat of Ra in later times, perhaps because she mellowed and became tamer. She is closely associated with both Hathor and Sekhmet and is often seen as a cat-headed woman carrying a sistrum (rattle) and/or menat (amulet). There is suggestion that she was a northern, or Lower Egypt form of Hathor (as was Sekhmet), as she was most popular in Bubastis in the eastern Delta. Her festivals were unequaled for the exuberance and intoxication of her adherents.
Cats were loved and revered in ancient Egypt, where they guarded the granaries from snakes and vermin. Bast was worshipped as a goddess of motherhood and protector of pregnant women. She was also worshipped as a goddess of fertility, abundance, and pleasure.
12. Anubis: Surrender/Shaman/Enlightened Heart
Anubis is the enlightened heart shaman who is the Opener of the Way, meaning he has gone before us, as one of us, to pave the way so that we might follow in his footsteps. Anubis knows how to surrender his heart and his truth to ever-expanding cycles of death and rebirth, in order to step more fully into his divine humanity here on Earth. ?On Earth as it is in Heaven.? He is the original Wolf Spirit from the Dog Star, Sirius, who is our ever-faithful companion, assisting us in our ego deaths and renewal of our soul?s true purpose. He is a walker between worlds and knows how to sniff out the path that comes and goes from form to formlessness. Anubis cares deeply about us and will guide us if we call upon him during our own shamanic journeys between the worlds.
In ancient Egypt, Anubis was known as the Divine Embalmer, and was said to have worked with his mother, Nephthys, and his adoptive mother, Isis, to help find the scattered pieces of Osiris?s body. He helped prepare the body and wrapped it in the mummy cloth. He was considered an underworld god, the son of Osiris, who became a guardian and guide, leading the deceased along all the pathways from the darkness back into the light. Anubis is often depicted reading the scales during the weighing of the heart against the feather of Ma?at.
13. Osiris: Regeneration/Transmutation/Beauty
Although Osiris has long been associated with death and called the Lord of the Underworld, truthfully it is more appropriate to acknowledge him as the archetypal regenerative principle that transmutes outworn, deteriorating form into its renewed, shining manifestation of beauty. Osiris invites us to let go and rest deeply upon his earthy green chest as he wraps his supportive arms around our bodies and turns us into that which we are in the process of becoming.
Osiris was said to have been a beloved and benign ruler of Egypt, whose reign featured harmony and great expansion. He brought civilization and prosperity to the people and taught them agriculture and trade. According to the myth, his brother Set became jealous, possibly because of Osiris?s prosperity and popularity, and possibly because Osiris fathered Anubis with Set?s wife, Nephthys. Set murdered Osiris, after which Isis set out?with the help of Thoth, Nephthys, and Anubis?to find her dead husband and restore him to life. His ensuing resurrection made Osiris the god of regeneration and growth.
14. Hathor: Magic/Medicine Woman/Integration
Beauty permeates this Medicine Woman who has integrated the light and dark into a magical blend of higher love and wisdom in her gold-and-silver cauldron of healing. Hathor?s resolution of inner conflict results in a sacred marriage within that brings forth the possibility of unconditional love for yourself and others. When you are healed by Hathor?s magic, you experience a peaceful empowerment and the ability to co-create your outer world. All Earth?s creatures feel blessed and safe in her presence and long to be close to her heart.
Hathor is a complex goddess with many attributes. Although her origins are hidden in pre-history, throughout her mythic presence she has integrated the polarities of love and hate, creation and destruction. Her name means ?house of Horus.? She is linked to Shekinah in the Jewish tradition, meaning the dwelling place of God. Hathor has long been worshipped as the golden calf, sacred cow goddess of the night sky who nourishes both gods and humans with her milk?the Milky Way. She is honored as goddess of love, sensuality, sexuality, celebration, intoxication, and joy, and she is also associated with fertility and regeneration. She is known as the Lady of the Mountains, and is the goddess of mining. Her stones are malachite and turquoise. As the Lady of the Sycamore, she is goddess of the tree. Another epithet for Hathor is the Golden One and she is also called Lady of the Vulva. As an important funerary goddess, she was the Mistress of the West. She was said to protect the deceased in the same way she protects the sun god Ra, when?in her aspect as Nut?she swallows him in the evening and holds him safe in her body as he travels through the night to be reborn in the morning. She has been seen as both the mother of Ra and the mother of Horus. She is also the wife of a different aspect of Horus as well as a consort of Sobek. It is as a daughter of Ra that she is aligned with Sekhmet as the near destroyer of humankind. The ancient Egyptians felt that her fierce lioness aspect had to be pacified by beer. They drank copious amounts of it at her festivals in honor of the inebriation that returned her to her gentle, loving nature and saved the human race by.
15. Set: Shadow/Adversarial Ally/Trickster
Set is the embodiment of the darker aspects of our natures, which are often projected onto others. He is the scapegoat who carries the sins of the world upon his back and tricks us into meeting our fate in the outer world so that we may evolve forward to higher levels of consciousness. He is in truth both an adversary and an ally, hence his more dignified name is the Adversarial Ally. If we refuse to meet and own this part of ourselves in a conscious manner, our actions can turn into the evil we have no wish to embody.
Set is a complex and controversial character in the pantheon of Egypt. He is very old and was originally honored and respected?and feared?as a god of the desert, storms, and chaos and later as a god of foreigners. The ancient Egyptians knew that regardless of the tumult and confusion that surrounded him, Set was an integral part of life and a force that could not be removed. One must, rather, come to terms with him. Set and Horus were originally united and equal, as some temple images portray. Over time they became separated by politics, eventually becoming extremely combative. It was in these later times that Set was vilified and considered evil. In the prevailing myth, Set slew his brother Osiris and fought Osiris?s son, Horus, for the rights of inheritance in a lengthy battle, which was finally decided by the gods in favor of Horus.
16. Wadjet: Life Force Energy/Purification/Divine Awakener
Wadjet, the great cobra serpent, spirals her way into our lives. Her kundalini energy opens our chakras as this Divine Awakener purifies our motives and gives us the gift of humility. We can learn from wisdom or learn from woe, but Wadjet ensures us that we will learn her lessons and take greater responsibility for our thoughts and actions in the world. She reminds us that it is not now or never, but now or later!
Wadjet is one of the oldest goddesses, her origins obscured in pre-dynastic Egypt. She is the sister of Nekhbet-Mother-Mut, with whom she shares guardianship of the Two Lands. The Vulture and the Cobra surmount the double crown worn by pharaohs, which symbolizes the joining of Upper and Lower Egypt, the south with the north, Earth with sky, and mater with spirit. Wadjet is called the Eye of Ra and from her place on the brow of pharaoh, she spits fire at his enemies. She was protector of all rulers of Egypt, and of childbirth and women. Although she is mostly associated with the cobra, in later times she has been seen in leonine and other forms. She is also closely related to the papyrus plant, which is the sacred plant of Lower Egypt.
17. Sothis: Star Consciousness/Generosity/Bodhisattva
Sothis is a pure channel for divine love and wisdom. She rises into the night sky and pours forth her spiritual essence, stellar energies, and compassionate wisdom upon all beings. Through her willingness to offer us these precious gifts and guidance we are elevated to a greater understanding of our own soul?s purpose and the reasons we are here on Earth at this time. Sothis is the star of humanity, calling forth the best in each of us and inspiring us to step into our greater selves and offer our own unique gifts back to the world.
In earliest known times, Sothis had her own identity and importance as the herald of the inundation when she was first seen rising in the east on the first day of the New Year. Sothis is the Greek name for the star called Sopdet by the Egyptians. Over time she became closely identified with Isis in her personification as the brightest star in the sky, the Dog Star, Sirius. Isis/Sothis followed her husband, Osiris, who is associated with the constellation of Orion, into the underworld for seventy days. Their reemergence in the night sky can also be seen as the restoration of Osiris, just as the earth is restored to life with coming of the flood each year. According to Robert Bauval, author of The Orion Mystery, the annual disappearance of Sothis and Orion from the night sky is the reason that the funerary rights lasted for seventy days.
Isis, as Sothis, helps the kings and mortals to ascend to the sky, just as she did with Horus and Osiris. As Isis is Great Mother of the Earth, Sothis is the Queen of the Sky.
Originally created by ShadowCasts.