(Also Mertseger, Meresger, Mert-sekert)

”She Who Loves Silence”
“The Peak of the West”

Meretseger is an Egyptian cobra goddess and the protective deity of the Valley of the Kings. She was believed to inhabit the highest mountain peak behind the Great Palace at Uaset, overlooking the valley. She was worshipped by the workers of the Theban necropolis, who believed she would poison or blind anyone who committed a crime. She would punish those workers who defiled a tomb (by stealing from it, or creating secret passageways to use later), by sending poisonous animals against them. Meretseger was also merciful and would heal the wounds of those criminals who repented.

She is depicted as a woman with the head of a cobra, a scorpion with a woman’s head, a coiled cobra or a cobra with a woman’s head and a single human arm. In certain hymns she was not a cobra, but a lioness, or a lion-headed woman (like Sekhmet). Very infrequently she is shown as a snake with three heads: a cobra, a woman and a vulture.

This goddess would have acted as a deterrent to any in the necropolis who considered tomb-raiding, or defilement. It is interesting to note that this deity was very unusual in her power of forgiveness. The Egyptian mindset strayed towards truth and order (Ma’at) as absolutes, with all else being chaos. Meretseger used the notion of pardonable sin. Rather than only punish, she could be confessed to, she could listen to entreaties or heal.

Her reach did not extend past the necropolis. She remained the personification of one specific mountain peak. Unlike most deities, Meretseger was rooted down to a specific geographic location and so worship of this goddess died out when the Theban necropolis was abandoned during Dynasty XXI (ca. 1000 BC).

Sources:
http://www.touregypt.net/godsofegypt/mertseger.htm
http://www.kemet.org/glossary/mertseger.html
http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/meretseger.htm

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