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Forms of Khnemu


Forms of Khnemu

Khnemu Sekhet Ashsep-f, "Khenmu, weaver of his light." Khnemu Khenti, "Khnemu, Governor of the House of Life." Khnemu Neb-Ta-Ankhtet, "Khenmu, lord of the Land of Life." Khnemu Khenti Netchemtchem Nakhet, "Khenmu, Governor of the House of Sweet Life." Khnemu Neb, "Khenmu, Lord." Sati, or Satet, or was the principal female counterpart of Khnemu, and was worshipped with him at Elephantine, where she was a sister goddess of Anqet. Her name appears to be continued with the root sat, "to shoot, to eject, to pour out, to throw, and the like, an sat is also used in connection with the scattering abroad and sowing of seed, and with the sparkling of water, thus at any rate at one period she must have been regarded as the goddess of the inundation, who poured out, and spread over the land the life-giving waters of the Nile, and the goddess of fertility. She sometimes carries in her hands a bow and arrows, a fact which suggests that in her earliest form she was a goddess of the chase ; according to Dr. Brugsch, she was identified by the Greeks with their goddess Hera. In many pictures of the goddess we see her wearing the crown of the South and a pair of horns, which prove that she was a form of Ast-Sept, or Isis, Sothis. At the time when the temple of Dendera was built she was identified with the local goddess Isis-Hathor of Dendera, with Ament, of Thebes, and Manat, of Heliopolis, and Renpit of Memphis, the goddess of the year, etc.


Coming now to the second great form of Khenmu, that under which he was worshipped at Mendes, we find that at a very early date he was identified with the great god of that city, and was known as Ba-neb-tettu, i.e., the Ram, lord of Tettu. Now as the word for "soul" in Egyptian was Ba, the title Ba-neb-Tettu was sometimes held to mean the "Soul, the lord Tettu," and this was the name of the ram. Ba-neb-Tettu, whose name was corrupted by the Greeks into Mevons, and Tamai al-Amdid by the Arabs, was said to be the "living soul of Ra, the holy Sekhem "who dwelleth within Hat-mehit, and the "life of Ra," and he worshipped throughout the sixteenth nome from the earliest times. He was regarded as the virile principle in the gods and men, an is styled, "King of the South and "North, the Ram, the virile male, the holy phallus, which stirreth "up the passions of love, the Ram of rams, whose gifts are brought "forth by the earth after it hath been flooded by the Nile, the "Soul, the life of Ra, who is united with Shu and Tefnut, the One "god, who is mighty in strength, who riseth in the heavens and the earth {like Ra, "who appeareth in the form of the Nile like {Osiris, who vivifieth "the earth {like Seb, and who formeth the breath of life for all "men, the chief of the gods, the lord of heaven and the king of "the gods." Ba-neb-Tettu was originally a local form of Ra, but he subsequently was made to include within himself not only the Soul of Ra, but the Souls of Osiris, and Seb, and Shu. These four Souls are reproduced by Signor Lanzone, an appear in the form of four rams, the horns of each being surmounted by a uraeus, they are described as "The Soul of Seb, lord of Het- "teft ; the Soul of Osiris, lord of Ta-sent ; the Soul of "Shu, lord of Anit ; and the Soul of Ra, dweller in ....." In allusion to these Souls the Ram of Mendes is sometimes described as the Ram with"Four faces {or, heads on the neck," The female counterpart of BA-neb-Tettu was Hat-Mehit, and her son by the god was Heru-pa-khart, the dweller in Atemet, and she was in some way connected with Punt, but the center of her worship in Egypt was the city of Mendes, of which she is called the "Mother ;" she was , of course, a form of Isis and Hathor , and as such was called "the Eye of Ra, the lady of heaven, and the mistress of the gods." In late dynastic times, when Ba-neb-Tettu was especially regarded as the Soul of Orisis, and when the other aspects of the god were not considered of so much importance, Hat-Mehit was wholly identified with Isis, and her son "Harpocrates, the dweller in Mendes," became to all intents and purposes "Horus, the son of Isis, by Osiris. Thus we see that the local god of Mendes, who was originally a form of Ra,the Sun-god by day, was merged into Isis, the Sun-god by night ; the priests however, were careful to preserve the peculiar characteristics of their god, i.e., virility and the power to create, and to recreate, and they did so by declaring that the phallus and the lower part of the backbone, of Osiris were preserved in the temple of the city which bore the name of Per-khet, i.e., the"House of the staircase." The Ram of Mendes was then a form of "Osiris as the Generator," as he is called in Chapters cxli, and cxlii. of the Book Of the Dead, and the Delta was probably due to the elaborate phallic ceremonies which were celebrated at Mendes and the neighborhood annually. Before the close of the Ptolemaic period, however, some calamity seems to have fallen upon Mendes, and her sanctuary was forsaken and her god forgotten ; on the other hand, the portion of the city which was known by the name Thmuis, Ouovis, survived, and was sufficiently important in Christain times to possess a bishop of its own. The Copts called the place Ollovewc, or Tbaki Ollovi, and a Bishop of Thmoui was present both at the Council of Nice and the Council of Ephesus. Finally, we have to note that Khenmu as a form of Shu, i.e., as a personification of the wind, and the atmosphere, and the supporter of heaven, and the light of the Sun and Moon, was worshipped at several places in Upper Egypt and in Heliopolis under the form of a ram; the center of his worship at last-named place was Het-Benben, or the House of the Obelisk." At Latopolis he absorbed the attributes of Tem, and he was identified with Nu, the maker of the universe and creator of the gods ; similarly, he was regarded as a form of Ptah and of Ptah-Tanen, an his female counterparts were Menhit, Seket, and Tefnut. In a hymn which is inscribed on the walls of the temple of Esna he is called, "The "prop of heaven who hath spread out the same with his hands," and the sky is said to rest upon his head whilst the earth beareth up his feet. He is the creator of heaven and earth and all that herein is, and the maker of whatsoever is ; he formed the company of the gods and he made man upon his potter's wheel. He is the One god, the source from which sprang the regions on high, the primeval architect, the maker of the stars, the creator of the gods, who was never born, and the begetter or maker of his own being, whom no man can understand or comprehend. Many other passages in the inscriptions at Esna ascribe to him naturally all the powers and attributes of Ptah. Among several interesting addresses to the god may be mentioned that wherein it is said, "Thou hast raised up heaven to be a dwelling-place fro the soul, "and thou didst make the great deep that it might serve as a "hiding-place for the body." Finally, it may be noted that as Khenmu-shu absorbed the attributes of Nu, Ra, Ptah, Thoth, etc., so several great goddesses, besides those already mentioned, were identified with his female counterparts, e.g., Nut, Net, {Neith, Nebuut, etc.

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