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Apep (Deity)

Apep the serpent

Snakes are a symbol of royalty and divinity in Egyptian mythology. It protects the Egyptians from chaos, as it’s a symbol of protection. Pharaohs used to wear crowns which are decorated with a Cobra to show power and seek protection.

The story of the protective snakes begins with the protective “Mehen”, who encircled “Ra” in his boat through his journey to the underworld. However, ancient Egyptians drew snakes by separating its head from their bodies (in Hieroglyphs) to prevent them from doing magical damage to the tomb owner.

When the Upper and Lower Kingdoms of Egypt unified, an image of Nekhbet, the vulture goddess and patron of Upper Egypt, joined the image of Wadjet as the Uraeus on the pharaoh’s crown. The two goddesses were known as the Nebty and were seen as joint protectors of the newly-unified kingdom.

When the sun god Ra rose to prominence during the Middle Kingdom, and the pharaohs began to be seen as manifestations of Ra, the Uraeus was believed to protect them by spitting fire from the sun onto their enemies.

Snakes are shown in Papyrus, walls of tombs and ancient artifacts because they are not only a symbol of protection and were respected by ancient Egyptians but also a sign of the union of two kingdoms (upper and lower). Plus, snakes combined “Ra” (the god of the sun) to the underworld, so they are divine.

Snake Deities[]

Nehebkau (Nehebu-Kau) was the main serpent god; although it was initially considered an evil spirit, it was later considered a funerary god associated with the afterlife. Nehebkau was also considered a powerful, protective and benevolent deity.

Apopis (Apep), or Perek, was an Egyptian demon of chaos who got the shape of a serpent and, as the enemy of the sun god, Ra, symbolized all that was outside the called “world”. Although many serpents represented divinity and royalty, Apopis threatened the underworld and symbolized evil.