Asteroid Files: Neith

Helios on Neith– So you guys, I have a confession. Although I am the biggest Sun-lover there is, and most obsessive over each of their stories, there is one who is even more important to me- The great Athena, warrior and wisdom goddess. As goddesses go though, Athena is kind of a mystery, and when you start digging you see that she is far more complex than most people realize- One big reason for that is this week’s asteroid, the truly awe-inspiring Neith!

The Astronomy– 1122 Neith is a main belt asteroid, approximately 12 km in diameter, orbiting the Sun. It was discovered by Eugène Joseph Delporte on September 17, 1928, at Uccle and was given the provisional designation 1928 SB. It was named for the Egyptian goddess of Libyan origin, Neith, goddess of the hunt and of war, believed to be the mother of the Sun. 1122 Neith has an orbital period of 4.21 years (1536 days) and an eccentricity of 0.26

The Myth– Neith was an early goddess in the Egyptian pantheon, said to be the first and the prime creator. She was the creator of the universe and all it contains and she governed how it functions, “I am the things that are, that will be, and that have been. No one has ever laid open the garment by which I am concealed. The fruit which I brought forth was the sun” Neith was a goddess of war and of hunting and had as her symbol, two arrows crossed over a shield. She is a far more complex goddess than is generally known, however, and of whom ancient texts only hint of her true nature. A religious silence was imposed by ancient Egyptians for secrecy, employing euphemisms and allusions and often relying on symbols alone. In her usual representations, she is portrayed as a fierce deity, a woman wearing the Red Crown, occasionally holding or using the bow and arrow, in others a harpoon. In fact, the hieroglyphs of her name usually are followed by a determinative containing the archery elements, with the shield symbol of the name being explained as either double bows (facing one another), intersected by two arrows (usually lashed to the bows), or, by other imagery associated with her worship. This symbol was displayed on top of her head in Egyptian art. In her form as a goddess of war, she was said to make the weapons of warriors and to guard their bodies when they died.

As a deity, Neith is normally shown carrying the Was scepter (symbol of rule and power) and the ankh (symbol of life). She is also called such cosmic epithets as the “Cow of Heaven”, a sky-goddess similar to Nut, and as the Great Flood, Mehet-Weret. In these forms, she is associated with the creation of both the primeval time and daily “re-creation”. As protectress of the Royal House, she is represented as a uraeus, and functions with the fiery fury of the sun, In time, this led to her being considered as the personification of the primordial waters of creation. She is identified as a great mother goddess in this role as a creator. Sometimes Neith was pictured as a woman nursing a baby crocodile, and she then was addressed with the title, “Nurse of Crocodiles”, reflecting a southern provincial mythology that she served as either the mother of the crocodile god, Sobek or he was her consort. As a maternal figure (beyond being the birth-mother of the sun-god Ra) Neith is associated with Sobek as her son (as far back as the Pyramid Texts), but in later religious conventions that paired deities, no male deity is consistently identified with her as a consort and she often is represented without one. Later triad associations made with her have little or no religious or mythological supporting references, appearing to have been made by political or regional associations only. Some writers assert that since Neith is a creator capable of giving birth without a partner (asexually) and without the association of creation with sexual imagery, as seen in the myths of Atum and other creator deities, they may interpret that as her being bisexual. Her name always appears as feminine, however. The antiquity of Neith reaches deeply into the prehistoric periods, apparently even the neolithic, however, when female deities as the sole creators were quite common in human cultures, so she should be considered in that role without having to reach for other explanations about her not following later conventions. All that she conceived in her heart comes into being, including the thirty deities. Having no known husband she has been described as “Virgin Mother Goddess”

Neith was considered to be eldest of the deities. Neith is said to have been “born the first, in the time when as yet there had been no birth”. In the Pyramid Texts, Neith is paired with Selket as braces for the sky, which places these two goddesses as the two supports for the heavens. This ties in with the vignette in the Contendings of Seth and Horus when Neith is asked by the deities, as the most ancient among them, to decide who should rule. She was appealed to as an arbiter in the dispute between Horus and Seth. In her message of reply, Neith selects Horus and says she will “cause the sky to crash to the earth” if he is not selected.

An analysis of her attributes shows Neith was a goddess with many roles. Since Neith also was goddess of war, she thus had an additional association with death: in this function, she shot her arrows into the enemies of the dead, and thus she began to be viewed as a protector of the dead, often appearing as a uraeus snake to drive off intruders and those who would harm the deceased. From pre-dynastic and early dynasty periods, she was referred to as an “Opener of the Ways” which may have referred to her as a psychopomp in cosmic and underworld pathways, escorting souls. References to Neith as the “Opener of Paths” for her Priestesses include: “Priestess of Neith who opens all the (path)ways“, “Priestess of Neith who opens the good pathways“, “Priestess of Neith who opens the way in all her places“. The main imagery of Neith was the deity of the unseen and limitless sky, as opposed to Nut and Hathor, who respectively represented the manifested night and day skies. Her epithet as the “Opener of the Sun’s paths in all her stations” refers to how the sun is reborn (due to seasonal changes) at various points in the sky, under her control of all beyond the visible world, of which only a glimpse is revealed prior to dawn and after sunset. It is at these changing points that Neith reigns as a form of sky goddess, where the sun rises and sets daily, or at its ‘first appearance’ to the sky above and below. It is at these points, beyond the sky that is seen, that her true power as the deity who creates life is manifested.

Why She Matters– Are…. are you serious? Look at what is going on right now, and then when I give you a bad ass African bisexual warrior goddess who is also a mother, you ask me why? Really. This is the original Athena, the goddess that Christianity stole the Virgin Mary from. She is self-contained power- she creates the Sun itself, reaching back to the dawn of time to show us that not only is the future female, but our deepest past is as well. Neith is amazing, and she has a ferocity to her that is mirrored by the peace she exudes. She protects her children, the Pharaohs as the descendants of the Sun itself, and guards them not only in life but in death. The best way to think of Neith is as a combination of Athena and Artemis, but not chaste at all. Neith is specifically attributed as an element of Athena, and therefore we must look at her in that light. With this knowledge, we see Athena as even more of a tragic figure, especially in stories where we see Athena as the one to hand over control to the masculine and patriarchy in the trial of Orestes. Neith is what she gave up to do it.

Neith is a sky goddess, a sex goddess, a water goddess, a mother goddess, a war goddess and an underworld goddess. She is an entire pantheon unto herself! As we move further into these crazy days, and the re-emerging feminine as a result of the masculine going way, way too far, Neith is who we truly need. She is the stirring of the waters, the force in the depths. Neith is the face of what is coming, whether we recognize her or not.

To find out where she shows up in your chart, go to astro.com, put in your birth details and in the extended options, all the way at the bottom of the next page, there will be a menu of additional objects. Under that is a blank space where you can enter the number 1122, for Neith. Once you have it entered, generate the chart! Where does Neith affect your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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