The name of Nephthys is derived from the ancient Egyptian root neb, meaning ‘mistress’, and hwt, ‘temple enclosure’. Thus she is the Lady of the House, the archetypal temple priestess. She is the principle (neter) of eternal life in transition. Her powers of protection are thus given to the sun barque of Ra upon entry to the Duat at dusk or twilight, at the commencement of the journey through night.
Nephthys, as drawn by Jeff Dahl
The words and spells of Nephthys are vital for passing safely through the gate of night to the underworld, for demons tremble in fear at her utterance. At dawn, Ra is greeted by Isis. It is said in the Pyramid Text Utterance 222, line 210,
Ascend and descend; descend with Nephthys, sink into darkness with the Night-bark. Ascend and descend; ascend with Isis, rise with the Day-bark.
Qabalistically, Nephthys is referred to Geburah or Mars, the 5th sephira of the Hermetic Tree of Life, and is the counterpart to Isis, who is placed in Gedulah or Jupiter. The pair embodies the Pillar of Force (Isis) and the Pillar of Form (Nephthys). The sisters are the inner power of the Sun and the Moon. They are the personification of the waxing and waning Moon on each side of the Tree.
Nephthys, as the waning Moon, symbolises the dissolution of the mind-ego complex and its identity with the personality. This is necessary before the word of the Holy Guardian Angel in Tiphereth can be received. In our Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, the main entry for Nephthys, ‘Lady of the Temple’ (neb-hwt), can be found under the number 71 (NBTI). Thus Crowley said, of the number 71,
A number of Binah. The image of nothingness and silence which is a fulfilment of the aspiration.
Nephthys and the Arrow of Truth
A further correspondence of Nephthys is the 25th path of Sagittarius, which links the Moon (Yesod) with the Sun (Tiphereth). We mark the entry of the Sun into each Zodiac sign with the ‘Rituals of Nuit and Ra’, as given in the book, Ritual Magick. The invocation to Nephthys (Nebtys) is as follows.
O Nebtys, sister of Isis and sister-wife of Set, Lady of the House, who protected the child Horus with thy arrow and who gave birth to Anubis! Thee, thee, we invoke! Thou who art goddess of the Unseen: thee, thee do we invoke!
Thine arrow, Nebtys, is the Light of Truth. The plumes are of Maat and of Amoun, while the shaft is the phallus of Amoun the Concealed One; the barb of thine arrow is the star in the innermost Heart of Mystery.
In silence and in depth and in darkness unspeakable do we approach the road of truth. The Arrow of Truth is a waning moon for it is directed towards the mansion of the Sun, from whence it draws reflected light. O thou star that shines amidst eternity’s night! Thou art the dissolution of all.
Come thou forth, I say, come thou forth! Hear us Nebtys, and come thou forth! Beautiful child that came forth from Nuit, we invoke thee and we adore thee!
Therefore thou cometh forth to us, that we may rejoice in thy rapture of silence, from thine own abode in a palace of stars!
1. Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, RO Faulkner [Oxford University Press 1969].
2. Entry for the number 71, The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri].
3. Ritual Magick—The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light [Ordo Astri].
© Oliver St. John 2017, 2019