The Goddess Wenet (Wenut, Unut) is an enigmatic figure in ancient Egyptian religion and mythology. In the earliest times Wenet was first identified as a snake headed goddess and then became associated with the hare. Her name means the Opener and also the Swift One. Both the snake and the hare are known for being swift creatures and the hare symbolized the opening of the new year, fertility, and the beginning of new life.
Wenet’s name, the hieroglyphic symbol for the Hare, was the “standard” of the 15th province in Upper Egypt.
In Egyptian history her name (“Unut”) was used by only one king, the Pharaoh Unas (circa 2350 BCE), who was the first pharaoh to have the Pyramid Texts carved and painted on the walls of the chambers of his pyramid. The Pyramid Texts are possibly the oldest known religious texts in the world.
The antiquity of Wenet’s worship is suggested by Book of the Dead spell 137A (Heku Stories 3) as well as in the Coffin Text spell 495 where the deceased states, “I extend my arm in company with Shu, I am released in company with Wenet.” In spell 720, “To become a dawn-God and to live by means of magicians,” the deceased affirms “I will act as one who is sent to the Gods, and my voice is that of Wenet.” In a fragmentary Coffin Text spell 942, an unknown deity is identified with Wenet by the phrase “…she has nothing which has been done against her, in this her name of Wenet.”
An ancient Egyptian text describes how Horus was injured after fighting with Seth, and he asks his mother (Isis) to speak words of heku on his behalf, “the name of Wenet was made, since words existed.” Elsewhere the same text refers to Wenet as “the lady of fighting of the chamber of Nunet in the high hill of Khemenu which is on the island of fire,” which means the point from which the sun rises.
Carved mythological texts found in shrines and temples to Bastet describe Bastet projecting her magical fury to destroy evildoers in the form of the “Seven Arrows.” Each Arrow was attributed to a deity who controlled a group of supernatural beings (or demons). The full list of deities has been lost to history, however Wenet is the sixth of the “Seven Arrows of Bastet.”
For a rather unknown deity of great antiquity, there remains a great deal of evidence as to the Hare Goddess Wenet’s magical powers.
Butler, E. P. “Goddesses and Gods of the Ancient Egyptians.” Henadology 2010
Cruz-Uribe, Eugene. 1988. Hibis Temple Project, Volume I. San Antonio, TX: Van Siclen.
Hart, George. A dictionary of Egyptian gods and goddesses. Psychology Press, 1986.
Hastings, James, John Alexander Selbie, and Louis Herbert Gray, eds. Encyclopaedia of religion and ethics. Vol. 5. Scribner, 1912.
Rosenow, D. C. E. “The Temple-house of the Great Temple of Bastet at Bubastis.” (2013).
Wenet/Unut photo and artwork Camilla Galli da Bino
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