Monday, 25 September 2017


“I think that any time of great pain is a time of transformation, a fertile time to plant new seeds.” - Debbie Ford 

Wadj-wer is an Egyptian god of fertility whose name means the “Great Green”. It was commonly believed that Wadj-wer was a personification of the Mediterranean Sea; however, it is apparently more likely that he rather represented the lagoons and lakes in the northernmost Nile Delta, as suggested by some texts describing the “great green” as dry lands which could be crossed by foot, possibly a mention of the edge between two or more lakes.

The earliest known attestation of Wadj-wer is dated back to the 5th Dynasty, in the mortuary temple of the pyramid of Sahure, at Abusir; here, he appears similar to the god Hapi, but with his body filled by water ripples. He also appears on the walls of the much later (20th Dynasty) tomb QV55 of prince Amunherkhepeshef, son of pharaoh Ramesses III.

Just as Hapi embodies the fertility made possible by the Nile’s annual inundation, Wadj-wer embodies the productivity of the ‘Great Green’, especially fishing. In PT utterance 366, the king is compared to Wadj-wer: “You are hale and great in your name of ‘Sea’; behold, you are great and round [i.e. encircling] in your name of ‘Ocean’.” 

Most references to Wadj-wer, however, denote a place rather than a divinity, albeit sometimes it is a mythic locale: In the Conflict of Horus and Seth, the three-month combat between Horus and Seth in the form of hippopotami is said to take place in the wadj-wer.

The only myth we know in which Wadj-wer features, and which is known in very fragmentary fashion, told of how Seth subdued the sea on behalf of the other Gods. The myth is possibly to be regarded as originally involving the Canaanite Gods Ba’al and Yamm. Indeed, in one of the attestations of the myth, reference is made indifferently first to Seth, then to Ba’al. In a spell against “the Asiatic disease,” it is said that the disease is to be conjured by Seth “just as Seth conjured Wadj-wer”.

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