Ancient Egyptians worshipped goddess Wadjet as the cobra goddess of ancient times. Symbols often depicted her as a cobra wrapped around a papyrus stem. The Greek world knew the goddess as Uto or Buto. Moreover, people from the city of Dep hailed the goddess as their local deity. This place later became a part of the city named by the Egyptians as Per-Wadjet or House of Wadjet. Additionally, the Greeks referred to this city as Buto, now called Desouk. People considered it a vital site in prehistoric Egypt, and it contributed to the cultural developments of the Paleolithic.
Similar to other ancient deities, the worship of Wadjet changed with time. From worshipping her as the local goddess of Buto, people started considering her as the patron goddess of Lower Egypt.
The appearance of goddess Wadjet
When revered as a patron goddess, people associated Wadjet with the land. Symbols often depicted her as a snake-headed woman or as a snake itself. Often ancients used the Egyptian cobra to represent Wadejt since the cobra is a venomous snake commonly found in the region.
Woman with Two Snakeheads
Imagery also showcased her as a woman with two snakeheads. In contrast, other images showed her putting a snakehead with a woman’s head. Her insightful counsel, or Oracle, was located in the famous temple, Per-Wadjet. The people dedicated this temple to the worship of the goddess, which gave the city its name.
The Sundisk Uraeus
Historians have speculated that the oracle played an essential role in the oracular tradition that later spread to Greece from Egypt. Additionally, one can find several images of Wadjet with a sun disk called Uraeus. The rulers of Lower Egypt often used the symbol as an emblem on their crowns.
Later times Wadjet’s images showed her simply as a woman with a snake’s head or as a woman wearing the Uraeus. Originally the Uraeus wrapped around the deity, or instead, pictures showed it coiled on the head of the pharaoh or god.
Wadejt’s depiction as a cobra continued for quite some time. Later as a patron and protector, images started showing her coiled upon the head of the supreme god Ra. The depiction symbolised her role as his protector and later became the uraeus symbol used on the royal crowns of Lower Egypt.
The early depiction of the goddess as a cobra wrapped around a papyrus stem begins from the Predynastic era. Historians consider it the first image that showed a snake intertwined around a staff. Later this sacred image appeared consecutively in later pictures and mythological tales from the Meditteranean Sea. Historians referred to it as the Caduceus that might have had separate origins.
The flagpoles used to represent deities also gave birth to Wadjets images. One can also observe this in the hieroglyph used for “uraeus” and the “goddess” in other places.
The Various Names Of Wadjet
Her name Wadjet stems from the term used to symbolise her region, Lower Egypt, the papyrus. The hieroglyphs of the area differed from the Green Crown or Deshret of Lower Egypt by a single factor.
In the case of the crown, symbols used a picture of the Green Crown, whereas, in the case of Wadjet, the characters used a rearing cobra. Her other titles included Wedjat, Wadjyt, Wadjit, Uto, Edjo, Uadjet and Udjo.
Mythology Related to the Goddess Wadjet
By the end of the ancient history’s Predynastic Period, ancient Egyptians considered that this goddess represented Lower Egypt. Later, she appeared almost always with her sister goddess Nekhbet who represented Upper Egypt. This shift from her perception as a distinctive goddess to assimilation with another goddess was gradual.
Their combined symbol represented the country as a whole. This symbol appeared in the “Nebty” (the two ladies), indicating that the present pharaoh ruled over Lower and Upper Egypt. Historians recovered the first Nebty name from the region on Anedjin of the First Dynasty.
The Pyramid Texts claim that Wadejt created the primary papyrus plant and primordial swamp. Furthermore, people who wrote her name used the glyph of a papyrus plant that cemented her link to the papyrus. The same plant was also the heraldic plant of Lower Egypt. No wonder the papyrus plants grow widely in the Nile Delta.
Another myth claimed that Wadjet was the daughter of Atum or Ra. He sent her as his eye to find and bring back goddess Tefnut and Shu when they got lost in the waters of Nun. Moreover, the legend says that Ra’s tear of happiness on their safe return gave birth to the first human beings.
As a reward to his daughter, Ra placed Wadjet on his head in the form of a cobra. It perpetuated her role as his constant protector and well-wisher. Additionally, he rewarded Wadejt with “Eye of Ra” and Bast, Hathor, Tefnut and Sekhmet. Moreover, people often called the symbol of the “Eye of the Ra” the Wedjat.
Ra and Wadjet
Furthermore, tales claim that Ra sent Wadjet out in this form to avenge him, which almost led to the destruction of humanity. The devastation caused by the goddess halted when she became tricked by beer dyed red to resemble blood. Some tales suggest that the goddess reached the principle of Ma’at or justice.
The tale claims that Geb attacked and raped his mother, Tefnut before people crowned him. Before he took the Royal Ureas to put it on his forehead, the cobra reared up and attacked the god with his followers. Geb’s entourage died, and the god suffered severe damage. Wadjet considered his actions against Ma’at and could not let his efforts go unpunished.
History often describes the goddess as a fierce deity, whereas people consider her sister Nekhbet a matronly figure. However, Wadjet also had a gentler side. Tales claim that she helped her sister Isis bring up young Horus and helped her hide the baby from Set. People also considered her as the protector of all women during childbirth. All these tales tell us the relevance and worship that Wadjet enjoyed during Ancient Egypt. Her presence left a solid mark on the history of Egyptian civilisation.