Hymn to the Goddess Meretseger, the Peak of the West

The Ancient Egyptians worshiped Meretseger, the Theban Cobra-Goddess in charge with guarding and protecting the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Meretseger’s name means “She Who Loves Silence” in reference to the silence of the desert cemetery area she watched over or, according to another interpretation, she was “Beloved of Him Who Makes Silence (Osiris).” Her other name was “Peak of the West” in the embodiment of Nature, the pyramid shaped mountain that overlooked the vast Necropolis of Thebes.

She was usually depicted as a coiled cobra, a snake-headed woman, or a cobra with a woman’s head. Snakes inhabited this desolate region and were seen as fitting symbols for the goddess. The Egyptians recognized the protective nature of serpents in addition to chaos and danger and assigned these characteristics to Meretseger accordingly.

Meretseger was particularly worshiped by the workers’ guild, who very much feared her wrath as the Guardian Goddess of the tombs. She was both dangerous to those who dared desecrate the tombs as well as merciful to those who built the tombs. Meretseger was also associated with Hathor who was called “Lady Of The West” and “Lady Of The Necropolis” and who was the Goddess that opened the gates of the underworld.

The following Hymn by Neferabu, a foreman on a work crew, shows praise and fear of the Peak of the West:


Giving praise to the Peak of the West,
kissing the ground to reverence her Ka.
I give praise;
hear my invocation!

For I am a righteous person upon earth.
Made by the servant in the Place of Truth,
Neferabu, justified.

I was an ignorant man and witless,
not distinguishing good from bad.

I made the mistake of transgressing against the Peak,
so she chastised me,

I being in her hand by night as by day,
sitting upon bricks like a woman in labor.

I called out to the wind, yet it did not come to me.
I inclined my mind to the Peak of the West,
great in strength,
and to every god and every goddess.

Now see, I shall tell seniors and juniors who are in the gang,
Beware of the Peak!
for a lion exists within her.

The peak strikes with the stroke of a fierce lion
when she is in pursuit of the one who has transgressed against her.

I called out to my Mistress.
I found that she came to me as a pleasant breeze.
She forgave me after she had made me see her hand of discipline.

She turned round to me in mercy,
she made me forget the pangs that were in my heart.
Lo, the Peak of the West is merciful when she is called upon.

See, may all ears that are alive upon Earth hear,
Beware of the Peak of the West!