Originally, this post was going to be about belief. I had numerous ideas zig-zagging in my head about how to go about the whole thing as well as just exactly what to write. However, none of these ideas would solidify. So, I moved away from a subject that is both confusing, personal, and intimately tied with “faith” to a subject that is pretty close to my heart: the Kemetic deity, Bes.
No one seems to know where this character and a half comes from. Seemingly, out of the blue, a large following for this god appears during the New Kingdom. It is because of his subsequent ‘mysterious’ appearance on the ancient Egyptian scene that many researchers believe that he is a transplant, possibly from Nubia, starting around the Middle Kingdom. Though rare, the ancient Egyptians have been known to add deities from other cultures into their pantheon, Ba’al being a prime example. However, recent research suggests that Bes was, indeed, a deity from ancient Kemet. “Mentions of Bes can be traced to the southern lands of the Old Kingdom.”
When you look at Bes, the first thing you notice is that he’s looking right the hell back at you. This is almost unheard of in Kemetic circles: most deities and most people in artistic representations are shown in profile. This type of artistic endeavor has set Kemetic artwork apart from all other ancient types of artwork. The fact that he is looking at you, shown with two feet pointed in your direction and two eyes staring at you is significant. Although, we have no idea what that significance is. It is, however, very interesting to see that this short and squat creature has been given the special privilege of being seen face-to-face unlike other important Kemetic deities.
Bes is seen as a dwarf. Old Kingdom representations seem to show him as a lion standing up. As time went by, the representation turned into a squat dwarf with a lion’s mask, tail, and-or pelt wrapped around his shoulders. He can be seen with a full-grown beard. Some representations depict him with a large phallis between his legs while others show him wearing a type of loin cloth garment. He wears a crown of feathers atop his head and sometimes, is seen holding lotus blossoms in his hands. Sometimes, he will be seen in jovial mood, which includes a protruding tongue and possibly a leg raised in dance. Other times, he will be shown with a serious demeanor. During those moments, you will see him with sword in hand and possibly holding a snake in the other hand. All of these various representations are accurate. They show his many different aspects.
Bes is a deity who has many aspects that he takes care of. He is seen as a war deity, and in later dynasties, he would become the great protector of all of ancient Egypt. He is god of fertility and childbirth. Other areas of his domain were sexuality, music, humor, dancing, and the home. His primary function, or so it would appear, in ancient Kemet would have the protection of woman and children. In the home, he was depicted on anything and everything imaginable. His cheerful countenance can be found on furniture, cosmetic containers, and mirrors. More commonly, his image is carved or painted into magic wands and amulets. “He was particularly protective of women and children and was often depicted with the young Horus protecting him as he matured. As a result, he also became a god of childbirth. It was thought that he could scare off any evil spirits lurking around the birthing chamber by dancing, shouting and shaking his rattle. If the mother was experiencing a difficult birth, a statue of Bes was placed near her head and his assistance was invoked on her behalf. Rather sweetly, Bes remained at the child’s side after birth to protect and entertain them. It was said that if a baby laughed or smiled for no reason, it was because Bes was pulling funny faces.”
As far as we have found, there were never any priests consecrated in his name, although there is the remains of one temple in his name.
Nominally, I knew of Bes prior to having a child. I had done enough research on Kemetic deities and of course, he had come up a time or two. I always liked the presence he showed in his amulets and depictions: happy, cheerful, and friendly. These, to me, are essential aspects of any deity associated with children. After I had my son, I’ve continuously tried to iron out a practice that involves my child. Since I follow a more Kemetic blended path, Bes has indeed come up in various aspects of what I am hoping to one day have as a practice. I see him as a household god, greeted in the morning and asked for protection should my children need it. A central altar with him on top of it.
Currently, Bes already resides in my home and I can attest to a god who knows what his work is and goes about it flawlessly.
Some time back, a negative manifestation was appearing to my son in his room as a black, amorphous mass. Almost every night, at about the same time, he would come running into my room with his little heart pounding. Whenever I would ask him if he had a bad dream, he could only nod at me. One night, that black, amorphous mass followed him and was pretty damn pissed off that my sweet little man was sleeping in the middle of the bed, forcing me to protect him (subconsciously) from the entity. It stood above me the entire night, giving me the feeling of my skin crawling and absolute downright terror. I did a smudge, a cleanse, and commissioned a picture of the god Bes to hang above my son’s bed. That entity has been gone since then.
Bes doesn’t fuck around.