Nuit: Ancient Egyptian Star-Goddess
Historical Description by the Artist:
This Goddess replica is a composite of several images found scattered from Libya to Egypt. Dated in the pre-dynastic period, 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”. Stories and images of Nut giving birth to Hathor, who bears upraised arms or stylized horns, strengthen the Nut/Nathor/Hathor connection.
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 associations.
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 today.
Size: 7.25″ Tall