Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Snakes of the Duat

All Snake names are in bold.

We are wrapping up this series of posts with snakes that are found in the Duat, afterlife or sometimes wrongly called the Underworld. These serpents for the most part are neither good or evil but guardians of various areas.

Snakes of the Hours of the Night

Ash-hrau - A 5 headed multi-tailed serpent that is so twisted that the tails and heads nearly touch. Though it is not explicitly called good or evil (the reason I included it here) .. the idea of it being twisted in an unnatural position could allude to it being destructive (evil) and likely associated with being of unsound mind.. ie insane.

Teka-Hra - Giant serpent that guards the doorway to the 5th hour of the night.

Tepen - Serpent in the 5th hour of the night that carries the offerings the living have made to Seker. Possibly responsible for delivering all offerings from the living to the gods and goddesses of the Duat.

Akhen  - the serpent who guards the 7th hour of the night. His name means "to split". The duty of the serpent is to ensure the boat of Ra is protected as it passed through this hour of the night.

Kheti - A huge serpent in the 8th hour of the night that spits fire on those who have gone against the Rites of Osiris, i.e. the rites of death and dying. As far as I can tell this means a person who has not put in the discipline to memorize the formulae needed to pass through the Duat.

Ab-ta - A huge snake guarding the 9th hour of the night. Ab-ta is joined by two other snakes; Anhefta and Ermen-ta. In order to pass the pylon (gate) to the tenth hour of the night the soul must recite the proper spells to these three snakes.

Tepi- a huge and frightening serpent found in the 9th hour of the night. Tepi has 4 human heads, 4 breasts, 4 pairs of arms and 4 pairs of legs with a serpent body.

Sethu - Giant serpent that carries a spear and guards the entrance to the 10th hour of the night in the Duat.

Showing some of the serpents from the Duat from the Book of the Dead.

Other Snakes related to the Duat
Ami-Hemf - He can be found on top of Bakhau, mountain of the Sunrise. There he protects and guards the exit of the sun. It is said that Ami-Hemf was 50 feet long and held the title "Dweller in His Flame" which possibly references his connection to Ra and sunrise.

Ap-Taui - A god who has two snake heads and sometimes depicted with no arms. This deity who Ra gave life to administers to Ra's needs as he travels on the solar boat, though I have only seen references to Ap-Taui related to the Duat (night).

Bitje - a monstrous and gigantic serpent encountered during the 9th hour of the night. Bitje has a head at both ends and no tail.

Imy-Hemef - "Dweller in his Flame" is how the name translates relating this snake to the rising of the sun. He lives on Bakhau, the mountain of the sunrise and aids Aker in keeping watch at the Eastern horizon.

Nehebkau - Serpent and mother goddess in the Duat. She is associated with food in the Duat. She is shown as a serpent with human legs.

Shetu- a giant serpent that can disappear into its own body when Ra is not speaking.

Tchet-s- a winged serpent encountered in the Duat.

Some more Duat serpents shown on the walls of the tomb of Seti I.

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