Wadjyt, Eto, Edjo, Uadjet

by Nefeti Meritamen

The deity of the town of Buto in the delta since Predynastic times, her name means ‘she of the papyrus’ or ‘the green one.’ According to one Pyramid Text, the papyrus plant was supposed to have emerged from the goddess. As ‘the green one’ she embodied the forces of growth. This was also a general term for the cobra which in uraeus form was her sacred animal. As a fire-spitting serpent, Wadjet was equated with the royal uraeus and eventually became the ‘eye of Re.’ Because of her solar connections Wadjet now and then was represented as having a leonine head surmounted by the solar disk and uraeus.

As the ‘lady who is upon her papyrus, who brought up her son Heru (Horus) in the Delta’ Wadjet was assimiliated with Aset (Isis).

In predynastic times, Wadjet was worshipped in the form of a cobra at Dep, a town in the north-western Delta. She is one of several cobra goddesses - of whom Renenutet and Meretseger are lesser examples. The proximity of the town of Dep to Pe, which means ‘throne,’ where the residence of the Kings of Lower Egypt is believed to have been situated, helped Wadjet rise to prominence. Pe and Dep merged gradually so that by the New Kingdom they had become one city named after its chief temple, called Per Wadjet, rendered as Buto by the Greeks. ‘The Souls of Pe and Dep’ was a term often applied to the falcon-headed figures in reliefs and inscriptions which are thought to be representations of early kings of Lower Egypt.

As a national goddess of Lower Egypt, Wadjet was the counterpart of the Upper Egyptian vulture-goddess Nekhbet, on whom she occasionally imposed her snake form. A representation from the Late Period at Dendera shows both goddesses in snake form, each sitting on a papyrus plant. Wadjet and Nekhbet were the nbty, or Two Ladies, who in their presence in the royal titulary, symbolized the essential Duality of the Egyptian world, the unity of Lower and Upper Egypt. An important part of the coronation ritual was the crowning of the ruler first with the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, undertaken by Wadjet, then with the White Crown of Upper Egypt as bestowed by Nekhbet.