Neith “Goddess of Arrows” she is the terrifying one”; Coptic: ⲛⲏⲓⲧ; also spelled Nit, Net, or Neit) was an early ancient Egyptian deity. She was said to be the first and the prime creator, who created the universe and all it contains, and that she governs how it functions. She was the goddess of the cosmos, fate, wisdom, water, rivers, mothers, childbirth, hunting, weaving, and war. Neith was the tutelary deity of Sais (Coptic: ⲥⲁⲓ Sai from Egyptian Zau), where her cult was centered in the western Nile Delta of Lower Egypt. It is attested as early as the First Dynasty. Neith was also one of the three tutelary deities of the southern city of Latopolis (Koinē Greek: Λατόπολις) or Esna (Snē) (Sahidic Coptic: ⲥⲛⲏ from earlier Egyptian: t3-snt, also iwnyt. Latopolis was located on the western bank of the river Nile some 55 kilometres (34 mi) south of Luxor (Thebes).
Symbolism In her usual representations, she is portrayed as a fierce deity, a woman wearing the Red Crown, occasionally holding or using the bow and arrow, in others, a harpoon. Neith also is a goddess of war and of hunting and that is the symbolism depicted most often. Her symbol was two arrows crossed over a shield. The hieroglyphs of her name usually are followed by a determinative containing the archery elements, with the shield symbol of the name being explained as either double bows (facing one another), intersected by two arrows (usually lashed to the bows), or, by other imagery associated with her worship. Her symbol also identified the city of Sais. This symbol was displayed on top of her head in Egyptian art. In her form as a goddess of war, she was said to make the weapons of warriors and to guard their bodies when they died. As a deity, Neith is normally shown carrying the was scepter (symbol of rule and power) and the ankh (symbol of life). She is called such cosmic epithets as the “Cow of Heaven”, a sky-goddess similar to Nut, and as the Great Flood, Mehet-Weret, as a cow who gives birth to the sun daily.
Attributes An analysis of her attributes shows Neith was a goddess with many roles. From predynastic and early dynasty periods, she was referred to as an “Opener of the Ways” (same as Wepwawet), which may have referred, not only to her leadership in hunting and war but also as a psychopomp in cosmic and underworld pathways, escorting souls. References to Neith as the “Opener of Paths” occurs in Dynasty Four through Dynasty Six, and Neith is seen in the titles of women serving as priestesses of the goddess. Such epithets include: “Priestess of Neith who opens all the (path)ways”, “Priestess of Neith who opens the good pathways”, “Priestess of Neith who opens the way in all her places”. (el-Sayed, I: 67-69). el-Sayed asserts his belief that Neith should be seen as a parallel to Wepwawet, the ancient jackal god of Upper Egypt, who was associated in that southern region with both royalty in victory and as a psychopomp for the dead.
Mythology In some ancient Egyptian creation myths, Neith was identified as the mother of Ra and Apep. When she was identified as a water goddess, she was viewed as the mother of Sobek, the crocodile. It was because of this association with water, i.e., the Nile, that during pairing of deities she sometimes was considered the wife of Khnum and sometimes was associated with the source of the river Nile. In that cult center, she also was associated with the Nile Perch as well as being the goddess of the triad. As the goddess of creation and weaving, she was said to reweave the world on her loom daily. An interior wall of the temple at Esna records an account of creation in which Neith brings forth the Nun, the first land, from the primeval waters.