Mehit – A Lioness Goddess in Ancient Egypt and the Consort of Anhur
Mehit (also spelled Mehyt, Mehet, or Mehit) is a lesser-known goddess in ancient Egyptian mythology. While she doesn’t play as central a role in the Egyptian pantheon as gods like Isis or Anubis, she still holds significance.
Below, WHE presents some key points about Mehit:
Lioness Goddess of Upper Egypt
Mehit was often depicted as a lioness or as a woman with a lion’s head. Lioness deities in ancient Egyptian religion were typically associated with warfare and protection, and Mehit was no exception.
In some traditions, she is considered the consort of Anhur, a war god. Together, they played central roles in the myth of the “Eye of Ra.” In this story, Mehit was identified as the wandering Eye of Ra, who was brought back from Nubia by Anhur.
Association to the region of Nubia
Some scholars believe that Mehit might have had foreign origins, possibly coming from Nubia or another neighboring region, and was later integrated into the Egyptian pantheon.
Her role in the Egyptian pantheon
Like other lioness deities, such as Sekhmet and Bastet, Mehit was likely invoked for protective purposes, especially in a martial context given her association with Anhur.
Over time, as is common in Egyptian mythology, Mehit’s attributes and roles may have been combined or overlapped with those of other lioness goddesses, including
Rescuing the Eye of Ra
In one account, she and her consort, Anhur (Onuris), journeyed great distances to bring back the wandering Eye of Ra. The Eye is often seen as the manifestation of various goddesses, including Tefnut and Hathor.
The “Eye of Ra” is an extension of the sun-god Ra‘s power, symbolized by a goddess in the form of a lioness, often representing the sun disk itself. And bringing back the Eye was a recurring theme and represented the re-establishment of Ma’at (cosmic order).
Some texts suggest a myth where Anhur pursues Mehit in Nubia and subsequently brings her to Egypt to be his spouse. In this regard, Mehit can be viewed as the manifestation of the Eye of Ra. This won’t be out of place as the Eye had the ability to take the form of several goddesses, especially lioness and protector goddesses.
As a result of the above, the god Anhur earned the epithet “bringer of the distant one”.
Worship and symbols
Similar to her consort, Anhur, her worship was pronounced in the Early Dynastic Period. Both Mehit and Anhur’s primary cult center was in the city of Thinis, where festivals celebrating their heroic deeds and adventures were held.
Thinis (also spelled This or Tjenu) was an ancient city in Upper Egypt, which now lies in ruins near the modern town of Girga. The city is believed to have been the original royal capital of the Early Dynastic rulers of Egypt.
Also, the ancient Egyptian city of Taremu in the Nile Delta, later known as Leontopolis in Greek (meaning “City of Lions”), was dedicated to the worship of Mehit.