(Anath) The Semitic Goddess Anat was introduced into Egypt as a result of immigration and royal patronage, first by the Hyksos and then by the Ramesside kings. Anat is a huntress and warrior, and is depicted armed with a shield, a lance and a club or battle-axe. The warlike Ramesside kings seem to have sought her patronage for their Levantine military adventures, Rameses II even naming one of his daughters ‘Daughter of Anat’. Anat is depicted wearing a tall crown similar to the White Crown of Upper Egypt, but with plumes on the side (indistinguishable, in fact, from the atef crown worn by Osiris). Anat was regarded by Egyptians as fierce and androgynous. She was incorporated into the pantheon as a daughter of Re and a wife of Seth, who receives Anat, along with her fellow Levantine Goddess Astarte, as compensation for being denied the kingship in his dispute with Horus, according to the Conflict of Horus and Seth. This arrangement, in addition to acknowledging the tendency to identify Seth with the Levantine God Ba’al (although Ba’al was also adopted into Egyptian religion in a minor way), also allows Seth’s brute force, which is denied the position of governing principle, scope for expression in the aggressive expansion of Egyptian cultural influence in the region. In addition to her royal patronage in the Delta, Anat also had a following among commoners, perhaps due to the presence in the region of a significant immigrant population, but also reflecting the positive attributes of strength and combat prowess which Anat shares with Seth.
In a spell to exorcise demons, the operator affirms at one point that s/he has suckled from the breasts of Anat, “the big cow of Seth” (Borghouts no. 24), perhaps as a way of imbibing her fierceness. The mechanism of the spell involves drinking beer from “the big pitcher of Seth,” from which the operator draws “words” to use against the demons; it is possible therefore that Anat’s milk is here identified with beer. A fragmentary magic spell recounts a myth of Seth and Anat in which Seth has a sexual encounter with a beautiful female who proceeds to strike him with some kind of venom. Seth takes to his bed while Anat goes to Re to seek help for him, upon which Isis (somewhat surprisingly) volunteers to cure Seth, the spell unfortunately breaking off here. Anat is described in this spell as “the mighty Goddess, the bellicose maiden, who dresses like a man and adorns herself like a woman,” (Roccati, 156). Anat’s refusal of motherhood and of feminine dress complement Seth’s own sexuality, which is oriented toward both sexes and does not manifest in procreation. In a spell against crocodiles on the river from the Harris Magical Papyrus (spell F ll. 14-16=col. 3/5-10), five Gods are asked to seal what is in the river “like the mouth of the vulva of Anat and Astarte, the two great Goddesses who are pregnant without giving birth, is sealed.” It is explained that “They were closed by Horus. They were opened by Seth,” (Ritner 1984, 216). That is, Seth “opened” or impregnated them, but their vulvas were closed by Horus, that they might not give birth to, in the particular case, crocodiles, since Maga, the son of Seth, is depicted as a crocodile.
A healing spell from the Leiden Magical Papyrus (Massart, 58-64) mentions an otherwise unknown myth involving Anat and Re. The spell speaks of a battle between Re (Prê) and some wild asses in the desert. Re is victorious and cuts their throats, but has been wounded, and begins to bleed, at which the earth becomes frightened. Anat arrives with seven silver jugs and eight bronze jugs and collects Re’s blood in them. Anat then pours the blood into the ground from the jugs and it seems that a plant grows as a result. Anat presents the plant to Re, the plant in turn being invoked against the malady at which the spell is directed.
Borghouts, J. F. 1978. Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
van Dijk, J. 1986. “Anat, Seth and the Seed of Prēꜥ.” Pp. 31-51 in Scripta Signa Vocis, eds. Vanstiphout et al. Groningen: Egbert Forsten.
Massart, Adhémar. 1954. The Leiden magical papyrus I 343 + I 345. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Ritner, Robert K. 1984. “A Uterine Amulet in the Oriental Institute Collection.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol. 43, No. 3: 209-221.
Roccati, Alessandro. 1971. “Une Légende Egyptienne d’Anat.” Revue d’Égyptologie 24: 152-159.
Return to Index