What Kind of Egyptian Deity Is the Hippo in ‘Moon Knight’? Meet Taweret

What Kind of Egyptian Deity Is the Hippo in Moon Knight Meet Taweret
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Characters and stories of Marvel Comics were often influenced by real-world mythologies. Just look at the whole arc dealing with Asgardians, and you will notice that sometimes deities and characters are borrowed from real life and serve as plot devices, powerful enemies, or powerful allies. Luckily, that sort of real-world influence transferred to the MCU as well. ‘Moon Knight,’ one of MCU’s most critically acclaimed projects, was heavily influenced by Egyptian mythology, and several famous gods made their appearance in the series. Today, we’re going to be dealing with the Hippo, a.k .a. Taweret. Let’s see what we know about her from the series and from real-world mythology. 

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Taweret is the Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. Taweret was believed to safeguard pregnant women and infants, warding off evil spirits and ensuring safe and successful childbirth, which is why she is sometimes called “Lady of the Birth House.” 
  • In the show, Taweret was presented as a goddess of Women and Children, but her task was to guide Steven Grant & Marc Spector through the afterlife, and she was sort of custodian of the afterlife, taking on a vastly different role than what you can read about in the real world. 

How did the hippopotamus come to be the Egyptian goddess of childbirth? 

Ancient Egyptians had a lot of gods inspired by animals, and quite several of them were depicted as hippos, believe it or not. This is due to their savage and aggressive nature, as they are among the strongest animals in the world. 

But it seems like a strange choice to depict the goddess of childbirth and fertility as a hippo, and yet amulets depicting Taweret or some far more ancient god associated with the same aspects could be found as early as the Predynastic period. The most common explanation is that the ancient Egyptians noticed that female hippos were extremely protective of their young, and a whole new deity was born.

But, Taweret’s likeness merged several other ferocious animals in her likeness, lions and, crocodiles, among others, depending on what depiction you’re going for; all these animals are mostly connected to protective qualities, especially lionesses. 

The head of a hippopotamus symbolizes her connection to the water, particularly the Nile River, as hippos were prevalent in these waters and associated with fertility. The limbs of a lion and the tail of a crocodile add ferocity to her image. Taweret held many names connected to many aspects of her deity, such as “lady of Heaven,” Mistress of the Horizon,” and “She Who Removes Water.” 

She was revered as a guardian of pregnant women, infants, and the birthing process itself. The ancient Egyptians believed in the importance of invoking Taweret’s protection during pregnancy to ensure safe delivery and a healthy child. Her terrifying appearance was seen as a deterrent to malevolent spirits that might pose a threat to the vulnerable stages of childbirth.

Taweret was also often associated with fertile land and the concepts of rebirth and regeneration, which are, one can argue, the most important aspects of Ancient Egyptian religion. 

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Difference between Taweret and her depiction in Moon Knight 

We know that Moon Knight got his powers from Khonshu, an important moon deity, but Khonshu is not the only god from the Egyptian religion that makes his appearance in the TV show.

Taweret made her first appearance in ‘Moon Knight’ episode 5, titled “Asylum.” She was masterfully portrayed by Antonia Salib. 

Taweret is recognized as the goddess of women and children in the show; however, she took on the role of a completely different deity as he guided Marc Spector and Steven Grant to the afterlife, which was typically something that Anubis would be doing. 

Taweret greeted Spector and Grant politely and attempted to take them to the field of Reeds. In the afterlife, Taweret attempted to balance their hearts for passage to Aaru. However, the scales remain unbalanced, leading Taweret to guide them through their memories to discover the hidden issue. 

Tawaret extracting hearts

As they revisit their past, souls start descending uncontrollably to the Duat without being judged due to the threat of Ammit. The men return, realizing they must stop Ammit and Arthur Harrow. To achieve this, they need to free Khonshu. Taweret assists by steering the boat to the Gates of Osiris, instructing them to balance their hearts. Unfortunately, time runs out, and only Spector’s heart balances, allowing him to enter the Field of Reeds while Grant succumbs to the Duat. 

How powerful is Taweret?

Taweret, as part of the Ennead, is immortal, which allows her to live for centuries without aging or losing power. As the goddess overseeing the afterlife, Taweret wields soul manipulation abilities, which was best shown when she extracted the hearts of Marc Spector and Steven Grant during their descent into the afterlife. Additionally, Taweret could remotely possess taking control of her avatar’s body, and manifest in dead bodies to communicate with others. Through power bestowal, she grants humans, such as Layla, a portion of her godly abilities to serve as her hands in the mortal world.

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Is Taweret from the comics?

At the time of Taweret’s appearance in the MCU, she wasn’t a part of Moon Knight’s comic lore. She was an “original” MCU character until she debuted in the comics as well, only recently in ‘Moon Knight: City of the Dead’ #2 released in 2023. In the comics, she has more or less the same role as in the MCU, or in other words, she does Anubis’ job, and her appearance is completely based on the MCU version of the character. 

Tawaret in the comics

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