Nephthys was the Egyptian goddess of mourning, the night, service (specifically temples), childbirth, the dead, protection, magic, health, embalming and beer.

Symbols: Sacred temple enclosure
Cult Centre: Diospolis Parva
Parents: Geb and Nut
Siblings: Osiris, Set, Isis and Horus the Elder
Consort: Set
Children: Anubis
Greek equivalent:
Roman equivalent:

Faience statue of Nephthys. Louvre. (c) Rama

Nephthys was typically paired with her sister Isis in funerary rites because of their role as protectors of the mummy and the god Osiris and as the sister-wife of Set.

Funerary stele of Seba. Osiris is flanked by Isis and Nephthys, c. 1250 BC. Neues Museum, Berlin. (c) Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin

In the funerary role, Nephthys often was depicted as a kite or as a woman with falcon wings, usually outstretched as a symbol of protection. Nephthys’s association with the kite and its piercing, mournful cries evidently reminded the Egyptians of the lamentations usually offered for the dead by wailing women. She was, almost without fail, depicted as crowned by the hieroglyphics signifying her name, which were a combination of signs for the sacred temple enclosure along with the sign for mistress on top of the enclosure sign.

A mummy rests on a sacred boat guarded by Anubis. Above, figures of Osiris, Isis and Nephthys. Sandstone stela, 332 BC – 395 AD. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.

Nephthys was clearly viewed as a morbid-but-crucial force of heavenly transition, i.e., the pharaoh becomes strong for his journey to the afterlife through the intervention of Isis and Nephthys. The same divine power could be applied later to all of the dead, who were advised to consider Nephthys a necessary companion.

Back to Main Egyptian Gods