Hededyt is depicted as a woman with a scorpion on her head or, possibly, as a scorpion with a woman’s head. Her name perhaps means ‘the White’, linking her to certain species of scorpion which are whitish yellow in color. Many images of scorpion Goddess figures which are not labelled, and which are generally identified as Serket, may actually be images of Hededyt or of an even lesser known scorpion Goddess, Wehêt, whom Jean-Claude Goyon argues was the Lower Egyptian counterpart to the Upper Egyptian Hededyt. In some depictions, Hededyt can be distinguished from Serket in the position of the scorpion on her head. In Hededyt’s case, the scorpion is positioned further down on the forehead, and appears to be in motion, whereas the scorpion of Serket is atop the head, and appears fixed. The scorpion of Serket is also generally rendered symbolically harmless by being only partially drawn. This difference in iconography may derive from an initial difference in function. The sphere of activity of Serket is determined as early as the Pyramid Texts to be the defense of the deceased, whereas Hededyt is first conceived as part of the cadre of deities who form the defense of Re. Hence Hededyt is referred to as ‘daughter of Re’ and uses her venom against the enemies of Re. The position of the scorpion on her forehead may therefore parallel the position of the uraeus cobra at the forehead of Re and other solar (or solarized) deities. The Hededyt scorpion, as cosmic defender, would not need to be neutralized, as would the Serket scorpion which is to be depicted in the tomb. When Hededyt acquires a role in defense of Osiris and Horus, it is through Isis appropriating her functions, and the form comes to be known almost exclusively as ‘Isis-Hededyt’ in the later period.

CT spell 283 (cp. BD spell 86), for “becoming a swallow” or, according to a variant, for “not dying again,” invokes Hededyt on behalf of the deceased by way of the deceased identifying him/herself with Re. The spell mentions Hededyt as the daughter of Re and as a “flame for N. [the operator of the spell, identified with Re] when he goes up from the horizon.” Hededyt is determined, however, not as a scorpion but as a swallow or some other kind of bird. This central conceit in the spell might be explained by the use in Egyptian hieroglyphs of the image of a swallow as the determiner for the word wer, ‘great’, as well as perhaps a pun involving the name of the swallow, mnt, and ‘not to die’, tm mt. CT spell 531 also mentions Hededyt, in the course of charging a funerary mask for the deceased emblazoned with diverse divine potencies and which is to grant vision to the deceased. The mask, which seems to be a sort of emanation of the solar disk itself, since it is said that it has been given the supports of the sky by Shu, that is, carried aloft just like the sun, is stated to be that which “Re gave to Osiris for the secret thing which was done against him, in order to end the injury by Seth against him … you are in front of N. [the deceased], and he will see by means of you.” The mask in question is said to have a braid of hair which is that of Hededyt, apparently comparing the braided lock of hair to the scorpion’s jointed tail as well as granting to the bearer Hededyt’s striking power. Hededyt also features in BD spell 39, “for driving off Rerek,” an epithet of Apophis or else an ally of Apophis similarly depicted as a  snake; the body of the text does not refer again to Rerek, but only to Apophis; it is possible, therefore, that Rerek, a threat to the deceased, is combated by use of a spell adapted from a liturgy concerning the defense of Re against Apophis, his cosmic foe. Hededyt is mentioned as having placed bonds upon Apophis, who is then punished by Ma’et and apparently eaten by Hededyt (Apophis being, however, indestructible): “O Apophis, enemy of Re, more pleasing is thy taste than this sweet taste in Hededyt.”

Goyon, Jean-Claude. 1978. “Hededyt: Isis-Scorpion et Isis au Scorpion.” Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale 78: 439-458.

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