As you may well know, the country we now know as Egypt was created when two separate kingdoms, known as the Upper and Lower Kingdoms, were united under one ruler. As both kingdoms had their own deities, many of these came to be combined, or sometimes to exist side by side with similar gods and goddesses. In this post, I’m taking a look at the Nebti, Nekhbet and Wadjet, known as the “two ladies” and often depicted together.
They also were regarded as sisters. Both of these goddesses were originally patrons of towns, but came to represent the kingdoms in their entirety. Nekhbet was the patron of Upper Egypt, and Wadjet of Lower Egypt. Both were particularly associated with the Pharaoh, Nekhbet as a motherly protector and Wadjet as a more warlike figure, although both could sometimes act outside their general character.
Both of the Nebti are associated with animals, Nekhbet with the vulture and Wadjet with the cobra. Nekhbet also wore the white crown of Upper Egypt, while Wadjet wore the red crown of Lower Egypt. According to her Wikipedia article, the depiction of Nekhbet as a white vulture was at least partially because it was thought at the time that there were no males in the species, and hence they reproduced through parthenogenesis. It turns out, however, that the males and females just looked alike. Anyway, Nekhbet eventually came to be a deity of childbirth and motherhood in general. Not really traits I would associate with a vulture, but apparently they do have strong maternal bonds.
Wadjet was sometimes associated with fire, and was said to have created papyrus. A few different myths show the cobra goddess protecting Horus, who was a symbol of the living pharaoh.