(Also Nehebu-Kau, Nehebkhau)
”He Who Harnesses the Spirits”
“He Who keeps the Energies Together”
Nehebkau is an Egyptian serpent god who welcomed, protected and served food to the dead pharaoh in the afterlife. In the Pyramid Texts it is implied that this god held some sway over which undead would be accepted into the afterlife. He is associated with spells protecting against and curing venomous stings and bites. His magical power stems from swallowing seven cobras, and he is a primeval being.
This god is depicted as a snake with human arms and legs, or a snakes head on a man’s body. He holds the eye of Horus, and is sometimes shown with two heads on one end of his body, and another head at the other end. Oddly, though there are depictions, this god is invisible.
In the Pyramid Texts, this god was said to be the son of the scorpion goddess Serket (hence the association with charms against venom). In other sources he is listed as the son of the earth god Geb and the harvest goddess Renenutet. In this sense, he is associated with the harvest and fecundity, both of which lend themselves as sources for his power.
In one myth, Nehebkau was tamed by the sun god Ra and from then on acted as the god’s servant, riding with him in the sun barque, as well as serving royalty in the underworld. Some versions have Ra riding on the serpent. This god generally lurked around the underworld, being avoided by gods and mortals. In another myth, in the Old Kingdom, Atum controlled Nehebkau’s powers by keeping his fingernail pressed into the serpent’s spine.
Because he was a primeval being, more a part of the mythology of Egypt than part of the everyday lives of Egyptians (like many other deities), this god never had a temple, or a cult center.