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This Goddess replica is a composite of several images found scattered from
Libya to Egypt Dated in the predynastic period BCE, they also appear on
cave wall paintings from Paleolithic Algeria. The culture that produced Her
was a sophisticated group of people who settled into small villages and
gradually domesticated cattle.
Her identity is a combination of the Ancient Bird and Serpent Goddess of
Regeneration and the Cow Horned Queen of Heaven represented by a category
of votive figurines called "Great Woman with Upraised Arms". The upraised
arms are a magical gesture of the evocation and appearance of the Deity.
This gesture is associated with the ancient female mystery rite of
'drawing down the Moon' and encountered also in the Egyptian hieroglyph
for the Ka (symbol of the soul).
This Goddess survived into the historical Egyptian pantheon in a variety
of forms and names. As Great Mother, of all the Gods, She was called Nut,
Nuit or Nathor. Both Nut/Nathor and the Goddess Hathor were given the
epithet "Cow of Heaven". The Nut/Nathor/Hathor connection is strengthened
by stories and images of Nut giving birth to Hathor, who bears upraised
arms or stylized horns. The primary link appears to be the Lunar identity
which went from a shared function to the primary attribute of Hathor. The
association of the Moon with women's menstrual cycles in which the "horns
of the uterus" are symbolized by sacred cow horns is one of the oldest
religious symbolic connections in human history. Though we cannot know for
certain what name the Pre-dynastic Egyptians called this image, we have
chosen to use the ancient name Nathor to designate Her based on these
This image was found as a votive funerary offering and in Her form as the
Bird/Serpent Goddess of Regeneration may represent a spiritual guide for
the deceased. Such Goddesses took the spirits of the newly dead into the
Cloudy Realms to await new bodies for them to be reborn into this World.
The inside lids of later Egyptian sarcophagi were often decorated by
paintings of Nuit with arms uplifted. It was through Her body that the
soul of the deceased traveled in the Boat of the Ages. As Hathor was also
"the Opener of the Gateway of Dreams," this function of spirit guide was
not restricted to the dead, and such figurines could have been given as a
protection to people asleep or ill, or to newborn and very young children.
Such practices find a familiar modern echo in the feminine-appearing
Guardian Angels with uplifted wings placed in nurseries and sickrooms even
Ancient Egypt, by Lionel Casson, Time/Life Books, NY 1965; pp. 81-90.
Egyptian Mythology, by Veronica Ions, Hamlyn Pub. Group Ltd., Middlesex,
England, 1965; pp. 38, 48, 78.
The Great Mother, by Eric Neumann, Bollingen series, Princeton Press, NJ,
1955; frontispiece, pp. 114-118, plates 12, 26, 27, 36, 44, 90, 91, 92.
The Atlas of Early Man, by Jacquetta Hawkes, St. Martins Press, NY, 1976.
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