Serket (also known as Selkis or Serqet) is an Egyptian goddess of fertility, nature, animals, medicine, magic, and, above all; healing venomous stings and bites. Her name means “she who causes the throat to breathe,” and as well as “she who causes the throat to tighten. In addition to stinging the unrighteous, Serket could cure scorpion stings and the effects of other venoms such as snakebite.
One of the most dangerous species of scorpion, the Deathstalker, resides in North Africa, so Serket was considered a highly important goddess, and sometimes she was the patron deity of pharaohs. She had a close association with the early rulers as their protector, most notably the rulers Scorpion I and Scorpion II.
As the protector against venom and snakebite, Serket was said to protect the other deities from Apep, the snake-demon. Also, since the bite from many of the venomous creatures of Egypt could prove fatal, Serket was considered a protector of the dead, particularly being associated with venoms and fluids causing stiffening. She was the protector of the tents of embalmers and of the canopic jar associated with venom. Serket gained a strong association with Neith, Isis, and Nephthys, who also guarded the canopic jars. Eventually, as the Egyptian pantheon evolved, Serket began to be identified with Isis, sharing imagery and parentage.
Serket was shown as a scorpion or as a woman with a scorpion on her head. It is unknown if she had her own temple, however she had a good number of priests in many communities.
Nefertari’s tomb has the following utterance to Serket:
Serket, mistress of heaven and lady of all the gods. I have come before you [oh] king’s great wife, mistress of the two lands, lady of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nefertari, beloved of Mut, justified Before Osiris who resides in Abydos, and I have accorded you a place in the sacred land, so that you may appear gloriously in heaven like Ra.
— McDonald, J.K. 1996, House of Eternity: The Tomb of Nefertari, p. 69
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