Serqet “Goddess of Magic” is the goddess of healing venomous stings and bites in Egyptian mythology, originally the deification of the scorpion. Her family life is unknown, but she is sometimes credited as the daughter of Neith and Khnum, making her a sister to Sobek and Apep. Scorpion stings lead to paralysis and Serket’s name describes this, as it means “(she who) tightens the throat”; however, Serket’s name also can be read as meaning “(she who) causes the throat to breathe” and so, as well as being seen as stinging the unrighteous, Serket was seen as one who could cure scorpion stings and the effects of other venoms such as snakebites.

Symbol In the art of ancient Egypt, Serket was depicted as a scorpion (a symbol found on the earliest artifacts of the culture, such as from Naqada III) or to have the body of a scorpion but the head of a woman or as a woman with a scorpion on her head. Although Serket does not appear to have had any temples, she had a sizable number of priests in many communities.

History One of the most dangerous species of scorpion, the deathstalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus) resides in North Africa and its sting may kill, so Serket was considered a highly important goddess and sometimes she was considered by pharaohs to be their patron. Her close association with the early rulers implies that she was their protector, notably Scorpion I and Scorpion II. As the protector against venom and snakebite, Serket often was said to protect the deities from Apep, the great snake-demon of evil, sometimes being depicted as the guard when Apep was captured. As many of the venomous creatures of Egypt could prove fatal, Serket also was considered a protector of the dead, particularly being associated with venoms and fluids causing stiffening.