Sepa, the Centipede God

Sepa, the Centipede God, was a protective fertility deity whose worship began in the Predynastic Period (c. 6000-3150 BCE). As centipedes are venomous, Sepa was considered to have power over other venomous animals and could be invoked for protection against snake bites and scorpion stings.

Sepa was sometimes referred to as the “centipede of Horus” and the Book of the Dead also makes a connection between Sepa and Anubis:

“I am Anubis on the Day of the Centipede, I am the Bull who presides over the field. I am Osiris, for whom his father and mother sealed an agreement on that day of carrying out the great slaughter; Geb is my father and Nut is my mother, I am Horus the Elder on the Day of Accession, I am Anubis of Sepa, I am the Lord of All, I am Osiris.”

The ancient Egyptians could see that insects attacked dead bodies, but centipedes fed on the insects and so they concluded that the centipedes protected the dead. Centipedes were seen following earthworms which improved the fertility of soil, leading to Sepa’s association with fertility.

He was honored with a festival from the Old Kingdom onward and had his own temple at Heliopolis where he was associated with protecting and watching over the mummy form of Osiris.

Sepa was usually depicted as mummy with the two antenna of a centipede. He was sometimes given the head of a donkey, possibly to reflect the fact that donkey manure was used to improve the fertility of soil.

On January 14th we honor Sepa, the Centipede God.