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In Egyptian mythology, Anuket (also spelt Anqet, and in Greek, Anukis) was originally the goddess of the Nile River, in areas such as Elephantine Island, at the start of the Nile's journey through Egypt, and in nearby regions of Nubia. Since the flooding of the Nile is what nourishes the fields, she gained her name, which means Embracer, in the sense of the nile embracing the fields. Her titles were similarly appropriate to this, including Nourisher of the Fields, Giver of Life, and She Who Shoots Forth (in reference to the flooding).

Since the god Chnum, and goddess Satis, were thought to be the gods of the source of the Nile, Anuket was viewed as their daughter. Being the deification of the Nile also lead to two tributaries of the Nile, in the region, being considered her arms. It also lead to her being associated with fast moving things, representing the river's flow, such as arrows, and the gazelle, which happens also to be an animal with a large presence at the Nile in this region. Thus in art, she was often depicted as a gazelle, or with a gazelle's head, sometimes having a headdress of feathers (thought by most Egyptologists to be a detail deriving from Nubia).

Ceremonially, when the Nile started its annual flood, the Festival of Anuket began, with people throwing coins, gold, jewelry, and precious gifts, into the river, in thanks for the life-giving water. The taboo, that was held in several parts of Egypt, on not eating fish, which were considered sacred, was lifted during this time.

Later, by the time of the Ptolomeic era, because of the association of the flooding of the nile with the fertility of the fields, and because her name was The Embracer, she became also a goddess of lust. In this form, she gained association with cowrie shells, which resemble the vagina.


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