(Menhit) A Goddess depicted as a lioness-headed woman, Menhyt’s name has been interpreted either as ‘the Slayer’ or as ‘She of the papyrus thicket’, a reference to the swamps emblematic of the Nile delta region in the north of Egypt. In the dual organization which structures the symbolic conception of Egyptian sovereignty, Menhyt is among the Goddesses invoked as principles of northern sovereignty and as defenders of that sovereignty. In CT spell 952 Menhyt is called “pre-eminent in the Mansions of the Red Crown [i.e. of northern or Lower Egypt] who herself strews well-being, who protects the Gods from those who would harm them.” This power is transmitted to the operator of CT spell 672, “to open up the desert of the knives,” where the operator is said to have “appeared in the presence of them of the West, the two Menhyts,” and as a result “cuts short the raging of any God, any spirit or any dead.” In addition to her role in the national pantheon, Menhyt has an important local role at Esna, where she has Khnum as her consort, their child being Heka, the divine personification of magic. In a hymn to Menhyt from Esna (Esna, vol. 5, p. 107), Menhyt’s name is esoterically interpreted by a play on the words men, ‘to remain, abide’ and hai, ‘to shine, radiate’, which are taken together to allude to her as one of the Goddesses conceived as the fire-spitting uraeus cobra on the brow of Re: “She abides and streams with light upon the head of Re, in this her name of Menhyt.” Menhyt is never actually depicted as a cobra; rather, her general posture as defender of the divine order evokes an association with the primary Goddess of the uraeus, Wadjet.

Faulkner, R. O. 1973-8. The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts. 3 vols. Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd. [CT]
Sauneron, Serge. 1959-75. Esna. Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale.

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