I was born under the sign of Scorpio, the constellation identified with a nasty little insect with pincers and poisonous venom. People with my sign are supposed to be mean, crafty, and passionate; or something like that. If everyone born in the same month really shares so many personality traits, why are there twins who are totally different? Scorpions are terrifying, but kind of fascinating as well.
Ancient Egypt was the home of scorpions with venom that could kill, so it’s not too surprising that there was a scorpion goddess. Known as Serqet, she was sometimes depicted as a scorpion, sometimes as a woman with a scorpion on her head, and other times without the scorpion motif at all.
She was regarded as a protector of pharaohs, as well as of the embalming tent. And in addition to having control over scorpions and other poisonous creatures and sending them out against those who displeased her, she was also able to protect people against them.
There’s some debate on whether her name means “she who stiffens the throats” or “she who lets throats breathe,” as apparently she did both. Her priests were magicians and healers. One mythical role she took was to summon seven scorpions to protect Isis and the young Horus when they were hiding in the desert from Set. Other sources credit her with killing the serpent Apep, although it seems like most Egyptian deities had that job at one time or other. Serqet was also particularly associated with dangerous turns in paths, and with marriage, protecting Amun and his wife when they wanted to be left alone together. Eventually, she came to be viewed as an aspect of Isis.
I understand that other cultures had scorpion goddesses, but much less is known about them than about Serqet, who’s already fairly obscure in modern times.
Hinduism has Chelamma, a deity with a shrine at the Kolaramma Temple in the Karnataka region of India. Like Serqet, she can protect people from scorpion venom. Apparently the area where the temple is located was once the Mysore Kingdom, which looks like an appropriate name for a place where scorpions are prominent.
And for the Aztecs, there was Malinalxochitl, a sorceress who was charged by her brother Huitzilopochtli with guiding his followers to their new home. In addition to commanding scorpions and snakes, her powers enabled her to kill with a glance, drive people insane, and alter eyesight. She went mad with power, and Huitzilopochtli advised his followers to leave her behind. Most of them did, taking her clothes with them so she couldn’t easily follow. She did have a few loyal adherents, however, who joined her in taking control of the city of Malinalco, apparently a traditional enemy of the people of Tenochtitlan.