Taweret: The Goddess of Childbirth and Fertility in Ancient Egypt


Egyptian mythology is a vast and complex system of beliefs that has fascinated people for centuries. It tells the story of a pantheon of gods and goddesses who controlled every aspect of life in ancient Egypt. From the sun god Ra to the goddess of fertility, Hathor, these deities were revered and worshipped by Egyptians for thousands of years.

Brief Explanation of Egyptian Mythology

The religion and mythology of ancient Egypt was closely intertwined with their daily lives. The Egyptians believed in multiple gods and goddesses, each with a specific role to play in society. For example, Osiris was the god of the afterlife while Horus was the god of kingship.

Egyptians believed that their pharaohs were divine beings who had been chosen by the gods to rule over them. These rulers were responsible for maintaining order in society, ensuring that offerings were made to the gods, and organizing public works projects such as building temples and monuments.

Introduction to Taweret, The Goddess Of Childbirth And Fertility

Taweret was one such deity who played an important role in Egyptian mythology. She was known as the goddess of childbirth and fertility and was depicted as a hippopotamus standing on her hind legs with human breasts, arms, belly, and legs. Taweret’s name means “The Great One” or “The Female Hippopotamus” in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

She was associated with protecting women during pregnancy and childbirth because hippopotamuses are known for their fierce maternal instincts. As one of the most beloved goddesses among ordinary people throughout ancient Egypt’s long history spanning over 3000 years., she had many temples dedicated to her worship throughout Egypt – from Alexandria all across the Nile Valley.

Her popularity was due to the fact that she was believed to have the power to protect mothers and children from evil spirits, as well as ensuring a successful childbirth. Her association with fertility also made her a popular figure among couples who were trying to conceive.

In the following sections of this article, we will explore Taweret’s origins and history, appearance and symbols, role in Egyptian society, legends and myths associated with her, modern interpretations and significance of her legacy. We will learn about how this goddess came to be so revered among ancient Egyptians and why she has continued to capture imaginations even today.

Origin and History of Taweret

Mythical story of Taweret’s birth

Taweret, also known as Tauret, is a goddess in Egyptian mythology who was associated with childbirth and fertility. According to mythology, Taweret was born from the tears of the god Ra. As the story goes, Ra had become so angry with humanity that he cried tears of rage.

These tears formed into a goddess who became known as Taweret. Taweret is often depicted as having the head of a hippopotamus, the body of a pregnant woman and the legs and feet of a lion.

This depiction symbolizes her dual nature as both fierce protector and nurturing caregiver. It also reflects her association with childbirth and fertility.

Historical significance of Taweret in ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, childbirth was an important event that was fraught with danger for both mother and child. The Egyptians believed that Taweret protected women during childbirth by warding off evil spirits that might harm mother or child.

Taweret was also worshiped for her association with fertility. The Egyptians believed that she could help women conceive children and protect infants from harm.

She was often invoked by women who were trying to conceive or who had just given birth. The importance of Taweret in Egyptian society is evident in her appearance in many different forms of art from this time period.

She appears on amulets, statues, wall paintings, and other artifacts from ancient Egypt. Overall, Taweret played an important role in ancient Egyptian culture as a powerful goddess who protected mothers during childbirth and aided women’s fertility.

Appearance and Symbols of Taweret

Physical Description of Taweret

Taweret was commonly depicted as a pregnant hippopotamus standing upright, with lion’s paws and crocodile’s tail. Her rounded belly and pendulous breasts were emblematic of her role as a goddess of fertility and childbirth.

Her fierce appearance was not meant to convey aggression, however. On the contrary, it was believed that her fearsome appearance would ward off any evil spirits that might threaten newborn infants.

The physical portrayal of Taweret was also influenced by real-life hippos, which were admired for their maternal instincts and protective nature towards their young. Her association with the river-dwelling animal may have also had to do with the Nile’s importance in Egypt as a source of life-giving water and abundance.

Explanation of Her Symbols and Their Meanings

Taweret was often depicted carrying a sa (a type of amulet) or a sceptre in her hand, both symbols that represented power and authority. The sa symbolized protection, while the sceptre represented dominion over evil spirits.

These symbols emphasized Taweret’s role as a protector goddess who watched over pregnant women and young children. Another prominent symbol associated with Taweret was the Shen ring, which encircled her belly.

The Shen ring represented eternity because it had no beginning or end – much like motherhood itself. It also symbolized protection from harm because it formed an impenetrable barrier around the goddess’s womb.

Taweret was sometimes also shown wearing an elaborate headdress adorned with ostrich feathers or cow horns – two more symbols associated with fertility in ancient Egypt. Taweret’s physical appearance and symbols all conveyed her essential roles: to protect women during childbirth from harmful forces, to ensure the survival and prosperity of newborns, and to oversee the abundance of life in general.

Role in Ancient Egyptian Society

Importance of Childbirth and Fertility in Ancient Egypt

Childbirth and fertility were highly valued in ancient Egyptian society. A woman’s ability to bear children was seen as a measure of her worth, and the continuation of the family line was essential for maintaining social order. Children were not only viewed as a blessing from the gods, but also had practical uses such as helping with farm work or providing support for elderly parents.

Due to the importance placed on childbirth and fertility, it was common for women to seek divine intervention during pregnancy and childbirth. Taweret, as the goddess of these areas, played a crucial role in ensuring safe deliveries and healthy babies.

How Taweret was Worshipped by Egyptians

Taweret was one of the most popular goddesses in ancient Egypt, particularly among women who sought her protection during pregnancy. She was often depicted carrying a large pregnant belly, emphasizing her association with childbirth and fertility.

In temples dedicated to Taweret, women would leave offerings such as small figurines or amulets depicting the goddess. These offerings were believed to bring good luck and protection during childbirth.

Taweret was also worshipped through household shrines where women could offer prayers and incense to seek her assistance during pregnancy. These shrines often included images or statues of Taweret holding an infant or crocodile, representing her protective nature.

Overall, Taweret played an important role in ancient Egyptian society by providing comfort and protection for expecting mothers. Her popularity is evidenced by the numerous depictions found throughout temples and households across Egypt.

Legends and Myths Associated with Taweret

The Story Behind the Constellation Ursa Major

Ancient Egyptian mythology is rich in stories that explain natural phenomena, including the creation of the stars. One such story involves Taweret and her role in creating Ursa Major, the Great Bear constellation.

According to legend, Taweret was tasked with guarding the northern sky, which was home to many constellations. One day, a group of hunters entered her domain and attempted to kill one of her sacred animals, a bear.

To protect the animal from harm, Taweret placed it in the sky as a constellation. The other animals that were hunted alongside the bear were also placed in the stars as smaller constellations surrounding Ursa Major.

In addition to being an important part of Egyptian mythology, Ursa Major has played a significant role in many cultures throughout history. It has been used by sailors for navigation and by astronomers for centuries to study celestial bodies.

The Role of Taweret in Protecting Children from Evil Spirits

Taweret was primarily associated with childbirth and fertility because she was believed to protect mothers and their children during pregnancy and childbirth. However, she also had another important role: protecting children from evil spirits.

According to Egyptian mythology, demons known as Apophis would attempt to enter homes at night and harm children while they slept. To prevent this from happening, mothers would place images of Taweret near their children’s beds or on amulets worn around their necks.

These images were believed to ward off evil spirits and protect children from harm. The importance of protecting children from these demons was so great that depictions of Taweret could be found not only in homes but also on temple walls and even on coffins.

Taweret’s protective role is still remembered today in Egyptian culture. Many pregnant women and mothers continue to wear amulets with her image or place them near their children’s beds to protect them from harm.

The Transformation of Taweret’s Image

While Taweret was primarily known as a protective goddess, her image and reputation evolved over time. In some depictions, she was shown holding a knife, signaling her ability to protect against both physical and supernatural threats. In other depictions, she was shown holding a baby or wearing a headdress made of papyrus leaves, symbolizing fertility.

Interestingly, Taweret’s image was not always associated with beauty or grace. In fact, some depictions show her as having the head of a hippopotamus or crocodile and the body of a pregnant woman.

While this may seem unusual by modern standards, it reflected ancient Egyptian beliefs about the power of combining different animal traits in one deity. Despite these changes in her appearance over time, Taweret remains an important figure in Egyptian mythology and continues to be associated with protection and fertility.

The Significance of Taweret Today

While the worship of ancient Egyptian deities has largely faded away over time, Taweret remains an important figure for many people today. Her role as a protective goddess still resonates with those who seek to ensure the safety and well-being of their families. In addition to being invoked for protection during pregnancy and childbirth, Taweret is also celebrated during festivals that honor motherhood and fertility.

These celebrations often involve offerings made at temples dedicated to the goddess or gatherings held in homes where images of Taweret are prominently displayed. Overall, while our understanding of ancient Egyptian mythology may have evolved over time, our fascination with its deities such as Taweret continues unabated even today.

Modern Interpretations and Significance

The role that childbirth plays today

In modern times, the role of childbirth has evolved significantly. In many cultures, it is still considered a major milestone in a woman’s life and the cornerstone of family dynamics. However, there has also been an increasing focus on reproductive health and family planning.

Taweret’s significance as a goddess of childbirth is still felt in modern times, as people across the world continue to turn to her for protection during pregnancy and delivery. Many women find comfort in invoking Taweret’s name during labor, believing that she will aid them just as she did in ancient Egypt.

How modern society views fertility

Fertility rates have been declining across the globe for decades due to various factors like lifestyle changes and growing environmental concerns. For some people who struggle with fertility issues, Taweret has become a symbol of hope.

She embodies the resilience of motherhood and the strength necessary to overcome obstacles. In today’s society, fertility has also taken on new meanings beyond just having children.

With advances in medicine and technology, people can now freeze their eggs or sperm for later use or get artificial insemination without a partner. This means that even those who do not follow traditional family-building paths can benefit from Taweret’s guidance.

The Evolution of Fertility Rituals

Throughout history, societies across the globe have developed rituals surrounding fertility to honor deities like Taweret. In modern times these rituals are evolving with changing attitudes toward family planning and reproductive health Today’s couples looking to conceive may participate in activities such as acupuncture or yoga which are believed by some experts to increase fertility rates by promoting relaxation or reducing stress levels– both known factors contributing towards infertility.

Also popular among couples looking to conceive is relationship counseling since it helps partners rediscover their connection, which may have been lost due to the stress and anxiety of trying to conceive. Overall, the evolution of fertility rituals in modern times reflects society’s changing attitudes towards family dynamics and its recognition of the importance of reproductive health.

The Future of Fertility

As technology continues to advance, so too will our understanding of fertility and childbirth. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has revolutionized the way people conceive children, while gene editing may soon provide a solution for genetic diseases that once threatened pregnancy. With these advances come new ethical dilemmas as well.

For example, some believe that IVF is unethical because it involves artificially selecting embryos based on desirable traits. Others argue that gene editing could lead to a world where only certain types of children are born.

As we move forward into the future, it is up to society to determine how we will balance our newfound power with responsible decision-making. Whatever happens next, Taweret’s legacy as a goddess of childbirth and fertility will undoubtedly continue to guide those who seek her protection and support during one of life’s most important milestones.


Taweret was one of the most important deities in ancient Egyptian culture, revered for her role in fertility and childbirth. Her image was ubiquitous in homes and temples throughout the country, and she was considered a protector of women and children.

The history and mythology surrounding Taweret reveal a complex understanding of childbirth in ancient Egypt. Despite being a popular goddess during ancient times, Taweret’s legacy has not been forgotten.

Today, many people still recognize the importance of fertility and childbirth as fundamental aspects of human life. Although modern medicine has replaced some of the beliefs held by ancient Egyptians regarding childbirth, the underlying appreciation for new life is still very much present.

The significance of Taweret’s continued influence can be seen through her depiction in pop culture today. She has been featured in various video games, movies, and television shows as an iconic symbol from Ancient Egypt.

This highlights how her legacy continues to inspire awe even outside the realm of religion. It is important to note that Taweret’s image is not simply relegated to relics from ancient times or pop culture references.

Her image can also be found on modern-day fertility charms, jewelry items, or paintings used by people all over the world who seek luck with their own fertility or wish people around them well-being during pregnancy. While we may no longer worship deities such as Taweret today as our ancestors did millennia ago; we can still appreciate their significance to our cultural heritage while acknowledging that they continue to inspire us centuries later.

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Taweret FAQ

Taweret is usually depicted as a bipedal female hippopotamus with lion and crocodile features, standing upright, and often holding a protective amulet or the sa (protection) symbol.

Taweret is associated with protection, fertility, and motherhood. Her symbols include the sa, a looped hieroglyph meaning protection, and the hippopotamus, which represents her nurturing and powerful nature.

While Taweret did not have dedicated temples of her own, she was commonly worshipped in household shrines, where families would pray to her for protection during childbirth and to ensure the well-being of their children.

Ancient Egyptians honored Taweret through personal devotion and worship in household shrines. They would offer prayers, amulets, and protective charms to the goddess for the safety of their family members.

Taweret played an essential role in the daily lives of ancient Egyptians by providing protection and blessings during childbirth and ensuring the safety of mothers and their newborns.

Taweret was not part of any specific triads; however, she was often associated with the god Bes, who protected households and families, and the goddess Hathor, who was also linked to fertility and motherhood.

Taweret's worship began during the Old Kingdom and continued through the Ptolemaic period. Despite fluctuations in popularity, her role as a protective deity for childbirth and fertility remained consistent.

Taweret's composite form represents her protective and nurturing qualities. The hippopotamus is a powerful and maternal animal, while the crocodile and lion features symbolize her strength and fierce protection.

Taweret's influence can be found in modern literature, film, and video games inspired by ancient Egyptian mythology and history, often featuring her as a symbol of protection, fertility, and motherhood.