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Egypt: Mafdet - The Runner


Mafdet

Patron of: protection against snakes, scorpions and other dangerous animals.


Appearance: a woman with the head of a cheetah, her hair braided and ending in scorpion tails. Sometimes she wears a headdress of snakes.

Description: The ancient Egyptians revered felines as sacred for many centuries apparently, as Mafdet is a very old goddess, dating to around the First Dynasty. She was prayed to for protection against scorpion stings and snakebite, and invoked in healing rituals for those who had been afflicted by such.

Mafdet, "the runner", was a panther goddess whose ferocity prevails over snakes and scorpions. the scratch of her claws is lethal to snakes, so symbolically the harpoon of the king becomes Mafdet's claws for decapitating his enemies in the Underworld. When Mafdet is described as leaping at the necks of snakes, the imagery seems to suggest her form takes on that of a mongoose. In one epithet, Mafdet wears braided locks, probably a reference to her displaying the jointed bodies of the scorpions which she has killed.

Worship: As her cult was incredibly ancient but supplanted by that of Bast, it is unknown how widespread Mafdet's cult was.

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