(Hesis) Hesat is depicted as a cow, intended as a wild cow if her name means, as has been suggested, ‘the wild one’. Her name is also closely related to an Egyptian word for milk. In utterance 485A of the Pyramid Texts, the king addresses Re, saying “I have come to you, O Re, a calf of gold born of the sky, a fatted calf of gold which Hesat created.” In spell 175 of the Coffin Texts the deceased says “I am the white bull whom Hesat suckled,” (similarly in spell 343, 344). Hesat features particularly in connection with the ‘Field of Offerings’ in the netherworld. In a spell from the Coffin Texts for becoming Hetep, ‘Lord of the Field of Offerings [hetep]’ (467), the deceased says, “I close my eye, yet I shine on the day of Hesat; I have slept by night, I have restored the milk to its proper level [i.e. replenished it], and I am in my town.” In a similar spell (468, similar to BD spell 110) Hesat is called ‘Lady of the Winds’. In spell 826, Hesat is the provider, not only of milk, but of beer in the other world (unless the phrase “beer of Hesat” in this spell is simply a metaphor for milk). A “son of Hesat” is mentioned in utterance 696 of the Pyramid Texts, which is unfortunately fragmentary and does not allow us to identify who this son might be. In spell 605 of the Coffin Texts, a spell to create a bed in the other world, the operator says, “I am a son of Hesat.” In general, to be a son of Hesat is to be well provided for, the cow being the preeminent embodiment of maternal solicitude in Egyptian symbolism. The sons of Hesat in a somewhat more literal sense were the sacred Mnevis bulls, and Hesat was sometimes regarded as the mother of the Apis bulls as well. A living sacred cow of Hesat and Isis is attested, and the bond between these two paradigmatically maternal Goddesses is strengthened by the tendency to occasionally write Hesat’s name in a manner so as to incorporate the hieroglyph for Isis. Anubis was sometimes regarded as the son of Hesat. One reason for this may be on account of the connection between Hesat and the imy-wt or nebris. The nebris, an animal hide – possibly bovine – totem, is associated with Anubis and may also have been the symbolic antecedent for the ‘white crown’ of Upper Egypt, which may have been fashioned out of leather. The nebris is said, unsurprisingly, to be “born of Hesat” in utterance 688 of the Pyramid Texts, where this leather is a component of the ladder upon which the deceased king is to climb to the sky. A myth about the origins of the nebris, however, from the Jumilhac Papyrus, although enigmatic, is more informative. Here the origin of the nebris is traced back to the regeneration performed by Hesat upon Nemty, who has been skinned alive. Hesat restores his flesh with an unguent made of her milk, an act which is described as a rebirth, it having been explained earlier in the text that flesh and skin come from the mother’s milk, while bones come from the father’s semen. Hesat thus becomes a new mother to Nemty. While the text is enigmatic about the exact relationship of this story to the nebris, one can infer that the nebris is a symbol of regeneration, perhaps originating in ceremonies on behalf of slaughtered cattle, and is under the care of Anubis because he uses it to reconstitute Osiris. The domesticated dog’s employment in herding cattle may also have played a role in the association between Anubis and Hesat, Anubis being sometimes called ‘the good oxherd’.

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