Aset-Serqet is Aset as the scorpion and a healer against poison. Some Kemetics view Serqet as a hypostasis or a specialized form of Aset and others view this as a syncretic deity. And still others view Aset-Serqet as a localized form of Aset that was worshiped in some parts of ancient Egypt and Nubia.
Serqet’s (also Serket; Greek: Selkis) full name is Serqet-hetyt meaning “She who causes the throat to breathe”. Serqet is depicted as a woman with a scorpion on her head, or as one of her theophanies: a scorpion, lioness or cobra. Sometimes Serqet was shown as a woman crowned with a non-venomous water scorpion to emphasize her beneficial attributes.
Serqet is associated with the dead as a protector of the canopic jars, a protector of the deceased, as a deity associated with the embalming chamber and as a guardian within the Duat.
Scorpions were seen as a “symbol of motherhood” since they carry their young on their backs. Alternatively, Serqet can be viewed as a deity who wards off the scorpion’s poison or even the one who causes it. Like Aset, Serqet is a goddess of magic and healing, especially getting rid of toxins, such as scorpion stings.
Aset and Serqet are connected mythologically, within the historical archeological record and some would say that Aset’s cult eventually absorbed Serqet so that Serqet became a hypostasis of Aset.
During the myth of “Aset and the Seven Scorpions”, the seven scorpions guarding Aset and Heru-sa-Aset are thought to be manifestations of Serqet. Although appearing separately, Serqet helped Aset when Heru-sa-Aset was bitten in the marshes when he was a child (1). Within healing “narrative spells” Aset is aided by her “sister” Serqet (2). Serqet narrates the myth of ”Aset and the Secret Name of Ra” (3). The myth is a part of a healing spell and this may explain why Serqet is the narrator, but Aset is also a goddess of healing and is more prominent in healing spells in general and scorpion bite spells in particular (4). Serqet appears with Aset in mythology as a narrator of a myth or as a manifestation to aid Aset. It is inconclusive whether or not Serqet is portrayed as a separate deity or as a form of Aset.
Within the historical record, their connection is more blatant. A depiction of a scorpion with a woman’s head crowned with the horns and solar disk “may represent Serqet with the attributes of Aset, Aset in scorpion form or simply a fusion of the two goddesses” (5). There is a Late Period statue of Aset suckling her son Heru, but she has a scorpion headdress. This is thought to be representing either Aset-Serqet or Aset-Hedjedjet, another scorpion goddess Aset is associated with (6). Serqet and Hedjedjet resemble each other and may or may not be different forms of the same goddess.
Within the Nubian Temples from the New Kingdom such as Beit el Wali, Amada, Kalabsha and Dakka there are depictions of Aset as Aset-Serqet wearing the scorpion ontop of her head (7).
“Among iconographic particularities of the Egyptian divinities depicted in Nubian Temples, the scorpion decorating the head of Aset deserves our special attention. Such pictures of the goddess occur in the temples of El-Lessiya, Amada, Dakka, and Buhen. We may presume that in Nubia Aset was already associated with the scorpion-goddess Serqet at the time of the XVIII Dynasty, this affinity being attested in Egypt by later iconographic sources.” (8)
Some Kemetics and Egyptologists see the Nubian portrayal of Aset as Aset-Serqet as evidence that Aset had subsumed Serqet’s cult. Serqet may have been associated with Aset much earlier than Dynasty 18, but we don’t have evidence yet to definitively support either theory.
(1) Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000), 234.
(2) Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses and Traditions of Ancient Egypt. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 189.
(3) Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses and Traditions of Ancient Egypt. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 69.
(4) Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000), 235.
(5) Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000), 235.
(6) Capel, Anne K. and Glenn E. Markoe, ed. Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: Women in Ancient Egypt. (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1996), 128.
(7) Siuda, Tamara. Nebt-Het: Lady of the House. (Stargazer Design, 2010), 9 and 18.
(8) Mysliwiec, Karol. Eighteenth Dynasty Before the Amarna Period. ( E. J. Brill Leiden, 1985), 5.