The scorpion is an animal that is rather fascinating in its creepiness. With its sleek body and venomous sting, it’s like nature’s compact killing machine. Not to mention that they thrive in inhospitable deserts. When I wrote my short story “The Red Desert of Oz,” I introduced a kind of creature called a Warpion, basically an enormous scorpion that is tame and travels in a manner reminiscent of warp drive in Star Trek. I wonder if, subconsciously, I felt friendly scorpions would fit into L. Frank Baum’s theme of scary beings becoming nice: a lovable scarecrow, a kindhearted metal man with a sharp axe, a lion more afraid of you than you are of him, a tiger with a very active conscience, a charmingly naive Halloween haunt, etc. Also, my zodiacal sign is Scorpio.
Picture by Josephine Wall
Since the ancient Egyptians had gods based on pretty much every animal with which they were familiar, it’s not at all surprising they had a scorpion goddess.
And since Egypt is home to one of the few species of scorpion able to kill a human with its venom, it would have been considered a quite powerful animal. You might think that Serqet, the scorpion goddess, would be a fearsome deity, but her role actually appears to be primarily protective. She had authority over not just scorpions but all kinds of venomous animals, and she had the power to heal people infected with venom. Serqet was one of the protectors of the Pharaoh, and was invoked in funereal rites. She could also play a punitive role, however, directing her poisonous animals against the unrighteous.
While Serqet is known to have been worshipped as early on as the First Dynasty, her skill at healing eventually led to her being associated with Isis, and she came to be regarded as an aspect of this more prominent goddess.
Picture by Melodie Renee
Ever notice how it’s always the gods of more specific and tangible things that end up being screwed over by becoming mere aspects of other gods? The ones who last tend to be those over big things, like the sun, the air, life, and death. I guess the religious leaders decide that these powerful deities can handle being in charge of scorpions and such as well. I’m sure it served to simplify the religion, but it comes across as rather unfair to poor Serqet and her fellow minor gods.