Nephthys “Goddess of Funerals” was a goddess in ancient Egyptian religion. A member of the Great Ennead of Heliopolis in Egyptian mythology, she was a daughter of Nut and Geb. Nephthys was typically paired with her sister Isis in funerary rites because of their role as protectors of the mummy and the god Osiris and as the sister-wife of Set. She was associated with mourning, the night/darkness, service (specifically temples), childbirth, the dead, protection, magic, health, embalming, and beer.

Etymology Nephthys is the Greek form of an epithet (transliterated as Nebet-hut, Nebet-het, Nebt-het, from Egyptian nbt-ḥwt). The origin of the goddess Nephthys is unclear, but the literal translation of her name is usually given as Lady of the House or Lady of the Temple. This title, which may be more of an epithet describing her function than a given name, probably indicates the association of Nephthys with one particular temple or some specific aspect of the Egyptian temple ritual. citation needed] Along with her sister Isis, Nephthys represented the temple pylon or trapezoidal tower gateway entrance to the temple which also displayed the flagstaff. This entrance way symbolized the horizon or akhet.

Symbolism In the funerary role, Nephthys often was depicted as a kite or as a woman with falcon wings, usually outstretched as a symbol of protection. Nephthys’s association with the kite or the Egyptian hawk (and its piercing, mournful cries) evidently reminded the ancients of the lamentations usually offered for the dead by wailing women. In this capacity, it is easy to see how Nephthys could be associated with death and putrefaction in the Pyramid Texts. She was, almost without fail, depicted as crowned by the hieroglyphs signifying her name, which were a combination of signs for the sacred temple enclosure (ḥwt) along with the sign for nb or mistress (lady) on top of the enclosure sign.

Function At the time of the Fifth Dynasty Pyramid Texts, Nephthys appears as a goddess of the Heliopolitan Ennead. She is the sister of Isis and companion of the war-like deity, Set. As sister of Isis and especially Osiris, Nephthys is a protective goddess who symbolizes the death experience, just as Isis represented the birth experience. Nephthys was known in some ancient Egyptian temple theologies and cosmologies as the “Helpful Goddess” or the “Excellent Goddess”. These late ancient Egyptian temple texts describe a goddess who represented divine assistance and protective guardianship. Nephthys is regarded as the mother of the funerary deity Anubis (Inpu) in some myths.  Alternatively, Anubis appears as the son of Bastet or Isis. In Nubia, Nephthys was said to be the wife of Anubis.